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j Im i' ri trl 1 1 r\ 

o^uASTluE 



THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

AT CHAPEL HILL 




PRESENTED BY 

Mr. and Mrs. 
Roland McClameroch, Jr. 



JAMES FEUIIOEE COOPER'S HOTELS. 



NEW EDITION. 



H The enduring" monuments of Fenimore Cooper are his 
works. While the love of country continues to prevail, his 
memory will exist in the hearts of the people. So truly patriotic 
and American throughout, they should find a place in every 
American's library.— Daniel Webster. 



The undersigned have commenced the publication of a new Library 
Edition of Cooper's Novels, well printed and bound in handsome style. 
The volumes will be issued rapidly, in the following order : 



1. The Spy. 

2. The Pilot. 
S. Bed Rover. 

4. The Beerslayer. 

5. The Pathfinder. 

6. The Last of the lo- 

hicans. 

7. The Pioneers. 

8. The Prairie. 

9. Lionel Lincoln. 
1©. Wept of Wish-ton- 

Wish. 
11. The Water-witch. 



16. Miles Wallingford. 

17. lining and Wing. 

18. Oak Openings. 

19. Satanstoe. 

SO. The Chain-hearer. 
31. The Red-skins. 

22. The Crater. 

23. Homeward Bound, 
SJU Home as Found. 
25. Heideiimauer. 

3G. The Headsman. 
27. Jack Tier. 
38. The Sea Lions. 



29. Wyandotte. 



12. The Bravo. 

13. Mercedes of Castile. 30. The Monikins. 

14. The Two Admirals. 31. Precaution. 

15. Afloat and Ashore. 33. Ways of the Hour. 

l£mo. Brown Cloth. Gilt side and bach. 
PRICE, $1.50 PER VOLUME. 

D. APPLETON & i/Mlta, New Yoit 



UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



00020914904 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/mercedesofcastilOOcoop 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



)sT3 
MERCEDES OF CASTILE; 



OE, 



THE VOTAGE TO CATHAY. 



BY 

J. FENIMORE COOPER. 




•' I fill this cup to one made up of loveliness alone, 
A woman, of her gentle sex the seeming paragon *, 
To whom the better elements and kindly stars have given 
A form so fair, that, like the air, 'tis less of earth than heaven. 1 ' 

PlNKNEY. 



NEW YORK: 

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, 

549 & 551 BROADWAY. 

1873. 

THE LIBRARY 

THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA 

AT CHAPEL HILL 



Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1861, by 

W. A. TOWNSENJJ AND COMPANY, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. 




PREFACE. 



So much lias been written of late years, touching the 
discovery of America, that it would not be at all sur- 
prising should there exist a disposition in a certain 
class of readers to deny the accuracy of all the state- 
ments in this work. Some may refer to history, with a 
view to prove that there never were such persons as our 
hero and heroine, and fancy that by establishing these 
facts, they completely destroy the authenticity of the 
whole book. In answer to this anticipated objection, 
we will state, that after carefully perusing several of the 
Spanish writers — from Cervantes to the translator of the 
journal of Columbus, the Alpha and Omega of penin- 
sular literature — and after having read both Irving and 
Prescott from beginning to end, we do not find a 
syllable in either of them, that we understand to be 



PREFACE. 



conclusive evidence, or indeed to be any evidence at all, 
on tlie portions of our subject tliat are likely to be 
disputed. Until some solid affirmative proof, therefore, 
can be produced against us, we shall hold our case to 
be made out, and rest our claims to be believed on the 
authority of our own statements. Nor do we think 
there is any thing either unreasonable or unusual in 
this course, as perhaps the greater portion of that which 
is daily and hourly offered to the credence of the 
American public, rests on the same species of testimony 
— with the trifling difference that we state truths, with 
a profession of fiction, while the great moral caterers of 
the age state fiction with the profession of truth. If 
any advantage can be fairly obtained over us, in con- 
sequence of this trifling discrepancy, we must submit. 

There is one point, notwithstanding, concerning which 
it may be well to be frank at once. The narrative of 
the "Voyage to Cathay," has been written with the 
journal of the Admiral before us; or, rather, with all 
of that journal that has been given to the worll 
through the agency of a very incompetent and meagre 
editor. Nothing is plainer than the general fact that 
this person did not always understand his author, and 
in one particular circumstance he has written so ob- 
scurely, as not a little to embarrass even a novelist, 
whose functions naturally include an entire familiarity 
with the thoughts, emotions, characters, and, occasion- 



PREFACE. XI 

ally, with the unknown fates of the subjects of his pen. 
The nautical day formerly commenced at meridian, and, 
with all our native ingenuity and high professional 
prerogatives, we have not been able to discover whether 
the editor of the journal has adopted that mode of 
counting time, or whether he has condescended to use 
the more vulgar and irrational practice of landsmen. 
It is our opinion, however, that in the spirit of impar- 
tiality which becomes an historian, he has adopted 
both. This little peculiarity might possibly embarrass 
a superficial critic ; but accurate critics being so very 
common, we feel no concern on this head, well know- 
ing that they will be much more apt to wink at these 
minor inconsistencies, than to pass over an error of the 
press, or a comma with a broken tail. As we wish to 
live on good terms with this useful class of our fellow- 
creatures, we have directed the printers to mis-spell 
some eight or ten words for their convenience, and to 
save them from headaches, have honestly stated this 
principal difficulty ourselves. 

Should the publicity which is now given to the con- 
sequences of commencing a day in the middle have the 
effect to induce the government to order that it shall, in 
future, with all American seamen, commence at one of 
its ends, something will be gained in the way of simplic- 
ity, and the writing of novels will, in-so-much, be ren- 
dered easier and more agreeable. 



Xll 



PREFACE. 



As respects the minor characters of this work, very 
little need be said. Every one knows that Columbus 
had seamen in his vessels, and that he brought some of 
the natives of the islands he had discovered, back with 
him to Spain. The reader is now made much more 
intimately acquainted with certain of these individuals, 
we will venture to say, than he can be possibly by the 
perusal of any w T ork previously written. As for the sub- 
ordinate incidents connected with the more familiar 
events of the age, it is hoped they will be found so 
completely to fill up this branch of the subject, as to 
render future investigations unnecessary. 




MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



CHAPTER I. 

w There was knocking that shook the marble floor, 

And a voice at the gate, which said — 
4 That the Cid Ruy Diez, the Carnpeador, 

Was there in his arms array'd. 1 " 

Mus. Hermans. 

Whether we take the pictures of the inimitable Cervantes, 
or of that scarcely less meritorious author from whom Le Sage 
has borrowed his immortal tale, for our guides ; whether we 
confide in the graver legends of history, or put our trust in the 
accounts of modern travellers, the time has scarcely ever existed 
when the inns of Spain were good, or the roads safe. These 
are two of the blessings of civilization w^hich the people of the 
peninsula would really seem destined never to attain ; for, in all 
ages, we hear, or have heard, of wrongs done the traveller 
equally by the robber and the host. If such are the facts to-day, 
such also were the facts in the middle of the fifteenth century, 
the period to which we desire to carry back the reader in 
imagination. 

At the commencement of the month of October, in the year 
of our Lord 1469, John of Trastamara reigned in Aragon, 
holding his court at a place called Zaragosa, a town lying on 
the Ebro, the name of which is supposed to be a corruption of 
Caesar Augustus, and a city that has become celebrated in our 
own times, under the more Anglicised term of Saragossa, for 
its deeds in arms. John of Trastamara, or, as it was more 
usual to style him, agreeably to the nomenclature of kings, 



14 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

John II., was one of the most sagacious monarchs of his age ; 
but he had become impoverished by many conflicts with the 
turbulent, or, as it may be more courtly to say, the liberty- 
loving Catalonians ; had frequently enough to do to maintain his 
seat on the throne ; possessed a party-colored empire that inclu- 
ded within its sway, besides his native Aragon with its depend- 
encies of Valencia and Catalonia, Sicily and the Balearic Islands, 
with some very questionable rights in Navarre. By the will of 
his elder brother and predecessor, the crown of Naples had de- 
scended to an illegitimate son of the latter, else would that 
kingdom have been added to the list. The King of Aragon 
had seen a long and troubled reign, and, at this very moment, 
his treasury was nearly exhausted by his efforts to subdue the 
truculent Catalans, though he was nearer a triumph than he 
could then foresee, his competitor, the Duke of Lorraine, dying 
suddenly, only two short months after the precise period chosen 
for the commencement of our tale. But it is denied to man to 
look into the future, and on the 9th of the month just men- 
tioned, the ingenuity of the royal treasurer was most sorely 
taxed, there having arisen an unexpected demand for a consid- 
erable sum of money, at the very moment that the army w T as 
about to disband itself for the want of pay, and the public 
coffers contained only the very moderate sum of three hundred 
jEJnriques, or Henrys — a gold coin named after a previous mon- 
arch, and which had a value not far from that of the modern 
ducat, or our own quarter eagle. The matter, however, was too 
pressing to be deferred, and even the objects of the war were 
considered as secondary to those connected with this suddenly- 
conceived, and more private enterprise. Councils were held, 
money-dealers were cajoled or frightened, and the confidants 
of the court were very manifestly in a state of great and earnest 
excitement. At length, the time of preparation appeared to be 
passed and the instant of action arrived. Curiosity was relieved, 
and the citizens of Saragossa were permitted to know that their 
sovereign was about to send a solemn embassy, on matters of 
high. moment, to his neighbor, kinsman, and ally, the monarch 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 15 

of Castile. In 1469, Henry, also of Trastamara, sat upon the 
throne of the adjoining kingdom, under the title of Henry IV. 
He was the grandson, in the male line, of the brother of John 
II. 's father, and, consequently, a first-cousin once removed, of 
the monarch of Aragon. Notwithstanding this affinity, and 
the strong family interests that might be supposed to unite 
them, it required many friendly embassies to preserve the peace 
between the two monarchs; and the announcement of that 
which was about to depart, produced more satisfaction than 
wonder in the streets of the town. 

Henry of Castile, though he reigned over broader and richer 
peninsular territories than his relative of Aragon, had his cares 
and troubles, also. He had been twice married, having repu- 
diated his first consort, Blanche of Aragon, to wed Joanna of 
Portugal, a princess of a levity of character so marked, as not 
only to bring great scandal on the court generally, but to throw 
so much distrust on the birth of her only child, a daughter, as 
to push discontent to disaffection, and eventually to deprive the 
infant itself of the rights of royalty. Henry's father, like him- 
self, had been twice married, and the issue of the second union 
was a son and a daughter, Alfonso and Isabella ; the latter be- 
coming subsequently illustrious, under the double titles of the 
Queen of Castile, and of the Catholic. The luxurious impotency 
of Henry, as a monarch, had driven a portion of his subjects 
into open rebellion. Three years preceding that selected for 
our opening, his brother Alfonso had been proclaimed king in 
his stead, and a civil war had raged throughout his provinces. 
This war had been recently terminated by the death of Alfonso, 
when the peace of the kingdom was temporarily restored by a 
treaty, in which Henry consented to the setting aside of his 
own daughter — or rather of the daughter of Joanna of Portugal 
— and to the recognition of his half-sister Isabella, as the right- 
ful heiress of the throne. The last concession was the result of 
dire necessity, and, as might have been expected, it led to 
many secret and violent measures, with a view to defeat its ob- 
jects. Among the other expedients adopted by the king — or, it 



16 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

might be better to say, by his favorites, the inaction and indo- 
lence of the self-indulgent but kind-hearted prince being prover- 
bial—with a view to counteract the probable consequences of 
the expected accession of Isabella, were various schemes to 
control her will, and guide her policy, by giving her hand, first 
to a subject, with a view to reduce her power, and subsequently 
to various foreign princes, who were thought to be more or less 
suited to the furtherance of such schemes. Just at this moment, 
indeed, the marriage of the princess was one of the greatest 
objects of Spanish prudence. The son of the King of Aragon 
was one of the suitors for the hand of Isabella, and most of 
those who heard of the intended departure of the embassy, nat- 
urally enough believed that the mission had some connection 
with that great stroke of Aragonese policy. 

Isabella had the reputation of learning, modesty, discretion, 
piety, and beauty, besides being the acknowledged heiress of so 
enviable a crown ; and there were many competitors for her 
hand. Among them were to be ranked. French, English, and 
Portuguese princes, besides him of Aragon to whom we have 
already alluded. Different favorites supported different pre- 
tenders, struggling to effect their several purposes by the usual 
intrigues of courtiers and partisans ; while the royal maiden, 
herself, who was the object of so much competition and rivalry, 
observed a discreet and womanly decorum, even while firmly 
bent on indulging her most womanly and dearest sentiments. 
Her brother, the king, was in the south, pursuing his pleasures, 
and, long accustomed to dwell in comparative solitude, the 
princess was earnestly occupied in arranging her own affairs, in 
a way that she believed would most conduce to her own happi- 
ness. After several attempts to entrap her person, from which 
she had only escaped by the prompt succor of the forces of her 
friends, she had taken refuge in Leon, in the capital of which 
province, or kingdom as it was sometimes called, Valladolid, 
she temporarily took up her abode. As Henry, however, still 
remained in the vicinity of Granada, it is in that direction we 
must look for the route taken by the embassy. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 17 

The' cortege left Saragossa, by one of tlie southern gates, 
early in the morning of a glorious autumnal day. There was 
the usual escort of lances, for this the troubled state of the 
country demanded ; bearded nobles well mailed — for few, who 
offered an inducement to the plunderer, ventured on the high- 
way without this precaution ; a long train of sumpter mules, 
and a host of those who, by their guise, were half menials and 
half soldiers. The gallant display drew crowds after the horses' 
heels, and, together with some prayers for success, a vast deal 
of crude and shallow conjecture, as is still the practice with 
the uninstructed and gossiping, was lavished on the probable 
objects and results of the journey. But curiosity has its limits, 
and even the gossip occasionally grows weary ; and by the time 
the sun was setting, most of the multitude had already forgotten 
to think and speak of the parade of the morning. As the night 
drew on, however, the late pageant was still the subject of dis- 
course between two soldiers, who belonged to the guard of the 
western gate, or that which opened on the road to the province 
of Burgos. These worthies were loitering away the hours, in 
the listless manner common to men on watch, and the spirit of 
discussion and of critical censure had survived the thoughts and 
bustle of the day. 

"If Don Alonso de Carbajal thinketh to ride far in that 
guise," observed the elder of the two idlers, " he would do 
w r ell to look sharp to his followers, for the army of Aragor. 
never sent forth a more scurvily-appointed guard than that he 
hath this day led through the southern gate, notwithstanding 
the glitter of housings, and the clangor of trumpets. We 
could have furnished lances from Valencia more befitting a 
king's embassy, I tell thee, Diego ; ay, and worthier knights to 
lead them, than these of Aragon. But if the king is content, it 
ill becomes soldiers, like thee and me, to be dissatisfied." 

" There are many who think, Eoderique, that it had been 
better to spare the money lavished in this courtly letter- writing, 
to pay the brave men who so freely shed their blood in order 
to subdue the rebellious Barcelans." 



18 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" This is always the way, boy, between debtor and creditor. 
Don John owes you a few maravedis, and you grudge him 
every Enrique he spends on his necessities. I am an older 
soldier, and have learned the art of paying myself, when the 
treasury is too poor to save me the trouble." 

"That might do in a foreign war, when one is battling 
against the Moor, for instance ; but, after all, these Catalans are 
as good Christians as we are ourselves ; some of them are as 
good subjects; and it is not as easy to plunder a countryman as 
to plunder an Infidel." 

" Easier by twenty fold ; for the one expects it, and, like all 
in that unhappy condition, seldom has any thing worth taking, 
while the other opens his stores to you as freely as he does his 
heart — but who are these, setting forth on the highway, at this 
late hour?" 

" Fellows that pretend to wealth, by affecting to conceal it. 
I'll warrant you, now, Eoderique, that there is not money 
enough among all those varlets to pay the laquais that shall 
serve them their boiled eggs, to-night." 

" By St. Iago, my blessed patron !" whispered one of the 
leaders of a small cavalcade, who, with a single companion, rode 
a little in advance of the others, as if not particularly anxious to 
be too familiar with the rest, and laughing, lightly, as he spoke : 
" Yonder vagabond is nearer the truth than is comfortable! 
We may have sufficient among us all to pay for an olla-podrida 
and its service, but I much doubt whether there will be a dobla 
left, when the journey shall be once ended." 

A low, but grave rebuke, checked this inconsiderate mirth ; 
and the party, which consisted of merchants, or traders, mount- 
ed on mules, as was evident by their appearance, for in that age 
the different classes were easily recognized by their attire, halted 
at the gate. The permission to quit the town was regular, and 
the drowsy and consequently surly gate-keeper slowly undid his 
bars, in order that the travellers might pass. 

While these necessary movements were going on, the two 
soldiers stood a little on one side, coolly scanning the group, 



MERCEDES OF CA.STILE. 19 

though Spanish gravity prevented them from indulging openly 
in an expression of the scorn that they actually felt for two or 
three Jews who were among the traders. The merchants, 
moreover, were of a better class, as was evident by a follower or 
two, who rode in their train, in the garbs of menials, and who 
kept at a respectful distance while their masters paid the light 
fee that it was customary to give on passing the gates after 
night-fall. One of these menials, capitally mounted on a tall, 
spirited mule, happened to place himself so near Diego, during 
this little ceremony, that the latter, who was talkative by nature, 
could not refrain from having his say. 

"Prithee, Pepe," commenced the soldier, " how many hun- 
dred doblas a year do they pay, in that service of thine, and 
how often do they renew that fine leathern doublet ?" 

The varlct, or follower of the merchant, who was still a 
youth, though his vigorous frame and embrowned cheek de- 
noted equally severe exercise and rude exposure, started and 
reddened at this free inquiry, which was enforced by a hand 
slapped familiarly on his knee, and such a squeeze of the leg as 
denoted the freedom of the camp. The laugh of Diego proba- 
bly suppressed a sudden outbreak of anger, for the soldier was 
one whose manner indicated too much good-humor easily to 
excite resentment. 

" Thy gripe is friendly, but somewhat close, comrade," the 
young domestic mildly observed ; " and if thou wilt take a 
friend's counsel, it will be, never to indulge in too great famili- 
arity, lest some day it lead to a broken pate." 

" By holy San Pedro ! — I should relish — " 

It was too late, however ; for his master having proceeded, 
the youth pushed a powerful rowel into the flank of his mule, 
and the vigorous animal dashed ahead, nearly upsetting Diego, 
who was pressing hard on the pommel of the saddle, by the 
movement. 

" There is mettle in that boy," exclaimed the good-natured 
soldier, as he recovered his feet. "I thought, for one moment, 
he was about to favor me with a visitation of his hand." 



20 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

M Thou art wrong — and too much accustomed to be heedless, 
Diego," answered his comrade ; "and it had been no wonder 
had that youth struck thee to the earth, for the indignity thou 
putt'st upon him." 

" Ha ! a hireling follower of some cringing Hebrew! He 
dare to strike a blow at a soldier of the king !" 

" Tie may have been a soldier of the king himself, in his 
day. These are times when most of his frame and muscle are 
called on to go in harness. I think I have seen that face be- 
fore ; ay, and that, too, where none of craven hearts would be 
apt to go." 

" The fellow is a mere varlet, and a younker that has just 
escaped from the hands of the women." 

" I'll answer for it, that he hath faced both the Catalan and 
the Moor in his time, young as he may seem. Thou knowest 
that the nobles are wont to carry their sons, as children, 
early into the fight, that they may learn the deeds of chivalry 
betimes." 

" The nobles!" repeated Diego, laughing. "In the name 
of all the devils, Roderique, of what art thou thinking, that 
thou likenest this knave to a young noble ? Dost fancy him a 
Guzman, or a Mendoza, in disguise, that thou speakest thus of 
chivalry ?" 

" True — it doth, indeed, seem silly — and yet have I before 
met that frown in battle, and heard that sharp, quick voice, in 
a rally. By St. Iago de Compostello ! I have it ! Harkee, 
Diego ! — a word in thy ear." 

The veteran now led his more youthful comrade aside, al- 
though there was no one near to listen to what he said ; and 
looking carefully round, to make certain that his words would 
not be overheard, he whispered, for a moment, in Diego's 
ear. 

"Holy Mother of God!" exclaimed the latter, recoiling 
quite three paces, in surprise and awe. " Thou canst not be 
right, Roderique !" 

" I will place my soul's welfare on it," returned the other, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 21 

positively. ." Have I not often seen him with his visor up, and 
followed him, time and again, to the charge?" 

"And he setting forth as a trader's varlet! Nay, I know- 
not, but as the servitor of a Jew !" 

" Our business, Diego, is to strike without looking into the 
quarrel ; to look without seeing, and to listen without hear- 
ing. Although his coffers are low, Don John is a good master, 
and our anointed king ; and so we will prove ourselves discreet 
soldiers." 

" But he will never forgive me that gripe of the knee, and 
my foolish tongue. I shall never dare meet him again." 

" Humph ! — It is not probable thou ever wilt meet him at the 
table of the king, and, as for the field, as he is wont to go first, 
there will not be much temptation for him to turn back in order 
to look at thee.' ' 

"Thou thinkest, then, he will not be apt to know me 
again ?" 

"If it should prove so, boy, thou need'st not take it in ill 
part ; as such as he have more demands on their memories than 
they can always meet." 

" The Blessed Maria make thee a true prophet ! — else would 
I never dare again to appear in the ranks. Were it a favor I 
conferred, I might hope it would be forgotten ; but an indignity 
sticks long in the memory." 

Here the two soldiers moved away, continuing the discourse 
from time to time, although the elder frequently admonished 
his loquacious companion of the virtue of discretion. 

In the mean time, the travellers pursued their way, with a 
diligence that denoted great distrust of the roads, and as great 
a desire to get on. They journeyed throughout the night, nor 
did there occur any relaxation in their speed, until the return 
of the sun exposed them again to the observations of the 
curious, among whom were thought to be many emissaries of 
Henry of Castile, whose agents were known to be particularly 
on the alert, along all the roads that communicated between the 
capital of Aragon and Yalladolid, the city in which his royal 



22 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

sister had then, quite recently, taken refuge. Nothing remark- 
able occurred, however, to distinguish this journey from any 
other of the period. There was nothing about the appearance 
of the travellers — who soon entered the territory of Soria, a pro- 
vince of Old Castile, where armed parties of the monarch were 
active in watching the passes— to attract the attention of Henry's 
soldiers ; and as for the more vulgar robber, he was temporarily 
driven from the highways by the presence of those who acted 
in the name of the prince. As respects the youth who had 
given rise to the discourse between the two soldiers, he rode 
diligently in the rear of his master, so long as it pleased the 
latter to remain in the saddle: and during the few and brief 
pauses that occurred in the travelling, he busied himself, like 
the other menials, in the duties of his proper vocation. On the 
evening of the second day, however, about an hour after the 
party had left a hostelry, where it had solaced itself with an 
olla-podrida and some sour wine, the merry young man who 
has already been mentioned, and who still kept his place by the 
side of his graver and more aged companion in the van, sud- 
denly burst into a fit of loud laughter, and, reining in his mule 
he allowed the whole train to pass him, until he found himself 
by the side of the young menial already so particularly named. 
The latter cast a severe and rebuking glance at his reputed 
master, as he dropped in by his side, and said, with a sternness 
that ill comported with their apparent relations to each other — 

" How now, Master Nunez ! what hath called thee from thy 
position in the van, to this unseemly familiarity with the varlets 
in the rear ?" 

" I crave ten thousand pardons, honest Juan," returned the 
master, still laughing, though he evidently struggled to repress 
his mirth, out of respect to the other ; " but here is a calamity 
befallen us, that outdoes those of the fables and legends of ne- 
cromancy and knight-errantry. The worthy Master Ferreras, 
yonder, who is so skilful in handling gold, having passed his 
whole life in buying and selling barley and oats, hath actually 
mislaid the purse, which it would seem he hath forgotten at the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 23 

inn we have quitted, in payment of some very stale bread and 
rancid oil. I doubt if there are twenty reals left in the whole 
party !" 

" And is it a matter of jest, Master Nunez," returned the ser- 
vant, though a slight smile struggled about his mouth, as if 
ready to join in his companion's merriment ; " that we are 
penniless ? Thank Heaven ! the Burgo of Osma cannot be very 
distant ; and we may have less occasion for gold. And now, 
master of mine, let me command thee to keep thy proper place 
in this cavalcade, and not to forget thyself by such undue famil- 
iarity with thy inferiors. I have no farther need of thee, and 
therefore hasten back to Master Ferreras and acquaint him with 
my sympathy and grief." 

The young man smiled, though the eye of the pretended 
servant was averted, as if he cared to respect his own admoni- 
tions ; while the other evidently sought a look of recognition 
and favor. In another minute, the usual order of the journey 
was resumed. 

As the night advanced, and the hour arrived when man and 
beast usually betray fatigue, these travellers pushed their mules 
the hardest ; and about midnight, by dint of hard pricking, 
they came under the principal gate of a small walled town, 
called Osma, that stood not far from the boundary of the prov- 
ince of Burgos, though still in that of Soria. No sooner was 
his mule near enough to the gate to allow of the freedom, than 
the young merchant in advance dealt sundry blows on it with 
his staff, effectually apprising those within of his presence. It 
required no strong pull of the reins to stop the mules of those 
behind ; but the pretended varlet now pushed ahead, and was 
about to assume his place among the principal personages near 
the gate, when a heavy stone, hurled from the battlements, 
passed so close to his head, as vividly to remind him how near 
he might be to making a hasty journey to another world. A 
cry arose in the whole party, at this narrow escape ; nor were 
loud imprecations on the hand that had cast the missile spared. 
The youth, himself, seemed the least disturbed of them all ; and 



24 MERCEDES OF- CASTILE. 

tliougli liis voice was sharp and authoritative, as lie raised it ia 
remonstrance, it was neither angry nor alarmed. 

" How now !" he said ; " is this the way you treat peaceful 
travellers ; merchants, who come to ask hospitality and a night's 
repose at your hands ?" 

"Merchants and travellers!" growled a voice from above 
— "say, rather, spies and agents of King Henry. Who are 
ye? Speak promptly, or ye may expect something sharper 
than stones, at the next visit." 

" Tell me," answered the youth, as if disdaining to be ques- 
tioned himself — " who holds this borough? Is it not the noble 
Count of Trevino V 

" The very same, Senor," answered he above, with a mollified 
tone: "but what can a set of travelling traders know of His 
Excellency ? and who art thou, that speakest up as sharply and 
as proudly as if thou wert a grandee ?" 

" I am Ferdinand of Trastamara — the Prince of Aragon — the 
King of Sicily. Go ! bid thy master hasten to the gate." 

This sudden announcement, which was made in the lofty 
manner of one accustomed to implicit obedience, produced a 
marked change in the state of affairs. The party at the gate 
so far altered their several positions, that the two superior no- 
bles who had ridden in front, gave place to the youthful king ; 
while the group of knights made such arrangements as showed 
that disguise was dropped, and each man was now expected to 
appear in his proper character. It might have amused a close 
and philosophical observer to note the promptitude with whi3h 
the young cavaliers, in particular, rose in their saddles, as if 
casting aside the lounging mien of grovelling traders, in order 
to appear what they really were, men accustomed to the tour- 
ney and the field. On the ramparts the change was equally 
sudden and great. All appearance of drowsiness vanished ; the 
soldiers spoke to each other in suppressed but hurried voices ; 
and the distant tramp of feet announced that messengers were 
dispatched in various directions. Some ten minutes elapsed in 
this manner, during which an inferior officer showed himself on 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 25 

the ramparts, and apologized for a delay that arose altogether 
from the force of discipline, and on no account from any want 
of respect. At length a bustle on the wall, with the light of 
many lanterns, betrayed the approach of the governor of the 
town ; and the impatience of the young men below, that had 
begun to manifest itself in half-uttered execrations, was put 
under a more decent restraint for the occasion. 

" Are the joyful tidings that my people bring me true?" 
cried one from the battlements ; while a lantern was lowered 
from the wall, as if to make a closer inspection of the party at 
the gate: "Am I really so honored, as to receive a summons 
from Don Ferdinand of Aragon, at this unusual hour ?" 

" Cause thy fellow to turn his lantern more closely on my 
countenance," answered the king, "that thou may'st make 
thyself sure. I will cheerfully overlook the disrespect, Count 
of Treviiio, for the advantage of a more speedy admission/' 

""lis he!" exclaimed the noble: " I know those royal fea- 
tures, which bear the lineaments of a long race of kings, and 
that voice have I heard, often, rallying the squadrons of Ara- 
gon, in their onsets against the Moor. Let the trumpets speak 
up, and proclaim this happy arrival ; and open wide our gates, 
without delay." 

This order was promptly obeyed, and the youthful king en- 
tered Osma, by sound of trumpet, encircled by a strong party 
of men-at-arms, and with half of the awakened and astonished 
population at his heels. 

" It is lucky, my Lord King," said Don Andres de Cabrera, 
the young noble already mentioned, as he rode familiarly at the 
side of Don Ferdinand, " that w T e have found these good lodg- 
ings without cost; it being a melancholy truth, that Master 
Ferreras hath, negligently enough, mislaid the only purse there 
was among us. In such a strait, it would not have been easy 
to keep up the character of thrifty traders much longer ; for, 
while the knaves higgle at the price of every thing, they are 
fond of letting their gold be seen." 

"Now that we are in thine own Castile, Don Andres," re- 



26 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

turned the king, smiling, "we shall throw ourselves gladly on 
thy hospitality, well knowing that thou hast two most beautiful 
diamonds always at thy command.", 

" I, Sir King ! Your Highness is pleased to be merry at my 
expense, although I believe it is, just now, the only gratification 
I can pay for. My attachment for the Princess Isabella hath 
driven me from my lands ; and even the humblest cavalier in 
the Aragonese army is not, just now, poorer than I. What 
diamonds, therefore, can I command ?" 

"Keport speaketh favorably of the two brilliants that are set 
in the face of the Dona Beatriz de Bobadilla ; and I hear they 
are altogether at thy disposal, or as much so as a noble maiden's 
inclinations can leave them with a loyal knight." 

" Ah ! my Lord King ! if indeed this adventure end as hap- 
pily as it commenceth, I may, indeed, look to your royal favor, 
for some aid in that matter." 

The king smiled, in his own sedate manner ; but the Count 
de Trevino pressing nearer to his side at that moment, the dis- 
course was changed. That night Ferdinand of Aragon slept 
soundly ; but with the dawn, he and his followers were again 
in the saddle. The party quitted Osma, however, in a manner 
very different from that in which it had approached its gate. 
Ferdinand now appeared as a knight, mounted on a noble An- 
dalusian charger ; and all his followers had still more openly 
assumed their proper characters. A strong body of lancers, led 
by the Count of Trevino in person, composed the escort ; and 
on the 9th of the month, the whole cavalcade reached Duenas, 
in Leon, a place quite near to Valladolid. The disaffected no- 
bles crowded about the prince to pay their court, and he was 
received as became his high rank and still higher destinies. 

Here the more luxurious Castilians had an opportunity of ob- 
serving the severe personal discipline by which Don Ferdinand, 
at the immature years of eighteen, for he was scarcely older, 
had succeeded in hardening his body and in stringing his nerves, 
so as to be equal to any deeds in arms. His delight was found 
in the rudest military exercises ; and no knight of Aragon could 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 27 

better direct bis steed in the tourney or in tbe field. Like most 
of tbe royp 1 races of tbat period, and indeed of this, in despite 
of tbe burniiig sun under wbich be dwelt, bis native complexion 
was brilliant, though, it had already become embrowned by ex- 
posure in the chase, and in tbe martial occupations of his boy- 
hood. Temperate as a Mussulman, his active and well-propor- 
tioned frame seemed to be early indurating, as if Providence 
held him in reserve for some of its own dispensations, that 
called for great bodily vigor as well as for deep forethought and 
a vigilant sagacity. During the four or five days that followed, 
the noble Castilians who listened to his discourse, knew not of 
which most to approve, his fluent eloquence, or a wariness of 
thought and expression, which, while they might have been 
deemed prematurely worldly and cold-blooded, were believed 
to be particular merits in one destined to control the jarring 
passions, deep deceptions, and selfish devices of men. 



28 MKRCEDES OF CASTILE. 



CHAPTER II. 

*' Leave to the nightingale her shady wood: 
A privacy of glorious light is thine ; 
Whence thou dost pour upon the world a flood 

Of harmony, with rapture more divine ; 
Type of the wise, who soar, but nevor roam ; 
True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home." 

WOKDSWOETH. 

While John of Aragon had recourse to such means to ena- 
ble his son to escape the vigilant and vindictive emissaries of the 
King of Castile, there were anxious hearts in Valladolid, await- 
ing the result with the impatience and doubt that ever attend 
the execution of hazardous enterprises. Among others who 
felt this deep interest in the movements of Ferdinand of Ara- 
gon and his companions, were a few whom it has now become 
necessary to introduce to the reader. 

Although Valladolid had not then reached the magnificence 
it subsequently acquired as the capital of Charles V., it was an 
ancient, and, for the age, a magnificent and luxurious town, pos- 
sessing its palaces, as well as its more inferior abodes. To tho 
principal of the former, the residence of John de Vivero — a dis- 
tinguished noble of the kingdom — we must repair in imagina- 
tion ; where companions more agreeable than those we have 
just quitted, await us, and who were then themselves awaiting, 
with deep anxiety, the arrival of a messenger with tidings from 
Duenas. The particular apartment that it will be necessary to 
imagine, had much of the rude splendor of the period, united 
to that air of comfort and fitness that woman seldom fails to 
impart to the portion of any edifice that comes directly under 
her control. In the year 1469, Spain was fast approaching the 
termination of that great struggle which had already endured 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 29 

seven centuries, and in which the Christian and the Mussulman 
contended for the mastery of the peninsula. The latter had long 
held sway in the southern parts of Leon, and had left behind 
him, in the palaces of this town, some of the traces of his barbaric 
magnificence. The lofty and fretted ceilings were not as glorious 
as those to be found further south, it is true; still, the Moor 
had been here, and the name of Veled Vlid — since changed to 
Valladolid — denotes its Arabic connection. In the room just 
mentioned, and in the principal palace of this ancient town — 
that of John de Vivero — were two females, in earnest and en- 
grossing discourse. Both were young, and, though in very 
different styles, both would have been deemed ,beautiftil in 
any age or region of the earth. One, indeed, was surpass- 
ingly lovely. She had just reached her nineteenth year — an 
age when the female form has received its full development in 
that generous climate ; and the most imaginative poet of Spain 
— a country so renowned for beauty of form in the sex — could 
not have conceived of a person more symmetrical. The hands, 
feet, bust, and all the outlines, were those of feminine loveliness ; 
while the stature, without rising to a height to suggest the idea 
of any thing masculine, was sufficient to ennoble an air of quiet 
dignity. The beholder, at first, was a little at a loss to know 
whether the influence to which he submitted, proceeded most 
from the perfection of the body itself, or from the expression 
that the soul within imparted to the almost faultless exterior. 
The face was, in all respects, worthy of the form. Although 
born beneath the sun of Spain, her Hneage carried her back, 
through a long line of kings, to the Gothic sovereigns ; and its 
frequent intermarriages with foreign princesses, had produced 
in her countenance that intermixture of the brilliancy of the 
north with the witchery of the south, that probably is nearest 
to the perfection of feminine loveliness. 

Her complexion was fair, and her rich locks had that tint of 

the auburn which approaches as near as possible to the more 

marked color that gives it warmth, without attaining any of the 

latter's distinctive hue. " Her mild blue eyes ? " says an emi- 

2 



30 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

nent historian, " beamed with intelligence and sensibility." In 
these indexes to the soul, indeed, were to be found her highest 
claims to loveliness, for they bespoke no less the beauty within, 
than the beauty without; imparting to features of exquisite 
delicacy and symmetry, a serene expression of dignity and moral 
excellence, that was remarkably softened by a modesty that 
seemed as much allied to the sensibilities of a woman, as to the 
purity of an angel. To add to all these charms, though of royal 
blood, and educated in a court, an earnest, but meek sincerity 
presided over every look and thought — as thought was betrayed 
in the countenance — adding the illumination of truth to the 
lustre of youth and beauty. 

The attire of this princess was simple, for, happily, the taste 
of the age enabled those who worked for the toilet to consult 
the proportions of nature ; though the materials were rich, and 
such as became her high rank. A single cross of diamonds 
sparkled on a neck of snow, to which it was attached by a short 
string of pearls ; and a few rings, decked with stones of price, 
rather cumbered than adorned hands that needed no ornaments 
to rivet the gaze. Such was Isabella of Castile, in her days of 
maiden retirement and maiden pride — while waiting the issues 
of those changes that were about to put their seal on her own 
future fortunes, as well as on those of posterity even to our own 
times. 

Her companion was Beatriz de Bobadilla, the friend of her 
childhood and infancy, and who continued, to the last, the 
friend of her prime, and of her death-bed. This lady, a little 
older than the princess, was of more decided Spanish mien, for, 
though of an ancient and illustrious house, policy and necessity 
had not caused so many foreign intermarriages in her race, as 
had been required in that of her royal mistress. Her eyes 
were black and sparkling, bespeaking a generous soul, and a 
resolution so high that some commentators have termed it 
valor ; while her hair was dark as the raven's wing. Like that 
of her royal mistress, her form exhibited the grace and loveli- 
ness of young womanhood, developed by the generous warmth 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 31 

of Spam ; though her stature was, in a slight degree, less no- 
ble, and the outlines of her figure, in about an equal propor- 
tion, less perfect. In short, nature had drawn some such dis- 
tinction between the exceeding grace and high moral charms 
that encircled the beauty of the princess, and those which be- 
longed to her noble friend, as the notions of men had established 
between their respective conditions ; though, considered singly, 
as women, either would have been deemed pre-eminently win- 
ning and attractive. 

At the moment we have selected for the opening of the scene 
that is to follow, Isabella, fresh from the morning toilet, was 
seated in a chair, leaning lightly on one of its arms, in an atti- 
tude that interest in the subject she was discussing, and confid- 
ence in her companion, had naturally produced ; while Beatriz 
de Bobadilla occupied a low stool at her feet, bending her body 
in respectful affection so far forward, as to allow the fairer hair 
of the princess to mingle with her own dark curls, while the 
face of the latter appeared to repose on the head of her friend. 
As no one else was present, the reader will at once infer, from 
the entire absence of Castilian etiquette and Spanish reserve, 
that the dialogue they held was strictly confidential, and that 
it was governed more by the feelings of nature, than by the 
artificial rules that usually regulate the intercourse of courts. 

" I have prayed, Beatriz, that God would direct my judgment 
in this weighty concern," said the princess, in continuation 
of some previous observation; "and I hope I have as much 
kept in view the happiness of my future subjects, in the choice 
I have made, as my own." 

" None shall presume to question it," said Beatriz de Boba- 
dilla; "for had it pleased you to wed the Grand Turk, the 
Castilians would not gainsay your wish, such is their love !" 

" Say, rather, such is thy love for me, my good Beatriz, that 
thou fanciest this," returned Isabella, smiling, and raising her 
face from the other's head. "Our Castilians might overlook such 
a sin, but I could not pardon myself for forgetting that I am a 
Christian. Beatriz, I have been sorely tried, in this matter I" 



32 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" But the liour of trial is nearly passed. Holy Maria ! what 
lightness of reflection, and vanity, and misjudging of self, must 
exist in man, to embolden some who have dared to aspire to 
become your husband ! You were yet a child when they be- 
trothed you to Don Carlos, a prince old enough to be your 
father ; and then, as if that were not sufficient to warm Castil- 
ian blood, they chose the King of Portugal for you, and he might 
well have passed for a generation still more remote ! Much as. 
I love you, Dona Isabella, and my own soul is scarce dearer to 
me than your person and mind, for nought do I respect you 
more, than for the noble and princely resolution, child as you 
then were, with which you denied the king, in his wicked wish 
to make you Queen of Portugal." 

"Don Enriquez is my brother, Beatriz ; and thine and my 
royal master." 

"Ah ! bravely did you tell them all," continued Beatriz de 
Bobadilla, with sparkling eyes, and a feeling of exultation that 
caused her to overlook the quiet rebuke of her mistress ; " and 
worthy was it of a princess of the royal house of Castile ! 
* The Infantas of Castile,' you said, i could not be disposed of, 
in marriage, without the consent of the nobles of the realm ;' 
and with that fit reply they were glad to be content." 

" And yet, Beatriz, am I about to dispose of an Infanta of 
Castile, without even consulting its nobles." 

" Say not that, my excellent mistress. There is not a loyal 
and gallant cavalier between the Pyrenees and the sea, who will 
not, in his heart, approve of your choice. The character, and 
age, and other qualities of the suitor, make a sensible difference 
in these concerns. But unfit as Don Alfonso of Portugal was, 
and is, to be the wedded husband of Dona Isabella of Castile, 
what shall we say to the next suitor who appeared as a pretend- 
er to your royal hand — Don Pedro Giron, the Master of Cala- 
trava ! truly a most worthy lord for a maiden of the royal 
house ! Out upon him ! A Pachecho might think himself full 
honorably mated, could he have found a damsel of Bobadilla to 
elevate his race !" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 33 

" That ill-assorted union was imposed upon my brother by 
unworthy favorites ; and God, in his holy providence, saw fit to 
defeat their wishes, by hurrying their intended bridegroom to an 
unexpected grave !" 

" Ay ! had it not pleased his blessed will so to dispose of 
Don Pedro, other means would not have been wanting 1" 

" This little hand of thine, Beatriz," returned the princess, 
gravely, though she smiled affectionately on her friend as she 
took the hand in question, " was not made for the deed its 
owner menaced." 

"That which its owner menaced," replied Beatriz, with eyes 
flashing fire, " this hand would have executed, before Isabella 
of Castile should be the doomed bride of the Grand Master of 
Calatrava. What ! was the purest, loveliest virgin of Castile, 
and she of royal birth — nay, the rightful heiress of the crown 
— to be sacrificed to a lawless libertine, because it had pleased 
Don Henry to forget his station and duties, and mate a favorite 
of a craven miscreant !" 

"Thou always forgettest, Beatriz, that Don Enriquez is our 
lord the king, and my royal brother." 

" I do not forget, Senora, that you are the royal sister of our 
lord the king, and that Pedro de Giron, or Pachecho, which- 
ever it might suit jthe ancient Portuguese page to style him, 
was altogether unworthy to sit in your presence, much less to 
become your wedded husband. Oh ! what days of anguish 
were those, my gracious lady, when your knees ached with 
bending in prayer, that this might not be ! But God would 
not permit it — neither would I! That dagger should have 
pierced his heart, before ear of his should have heard the vows 
of Isabella of Castile !" 

" Speak no more of this, good Beatriz, I pray thee," said the 
princess, shuddering, and crossing herself; "they were, in 
sooth, days of anguish ; but what were they in comparison 
with the passion of the Son of God, who gave himself a sacri- 
fice for our sins ! Name it not, then ; it was good for my soul 
to be thus tried ; and thou knowest that the evil was turned 



34 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

from me — more, I doubt not, by the efficacy of our prayers, 
than by that of thy dagger. If thou wilt speak of my suitors, 
surely there are others better worthy of the trouble." 

A light gleamed about the dark eye of Beatriz, and a smile 
struggled toward her pretty mouth ; for well did she understand 
that the royal, but bashful maiden, would gladly hear some- 
thing of him on whom her choice had finally fallen. Although 
ever disposed to do that which was grateful to her mistress, 
with a woman's coquetry, Beatriz determined to approach the 
more pleasing part of the subject coyly, and by a regular grada- 
tion of events, in the order in which they had actually occurred. 

" Then, there was Monsieur de Guienne, the brother of King 
Louis of France," she resumed, affecting contempt in her man- 
ner ; " he would fain become the husband of the future Queen 
of Castile ! But even our most unworthy Castilians soon saw 
the unfitness of that union. Their pride was unwilling to run 
the chance of becoming a fief of France.'' 

i l That misfortune could never have befallen our beloved 
Castile," interrupted Isabella with dignity; "had I espoused 
the King of France himself, he would have learned to respect 
me as the Queen Proprietor of this ancient realm, and not have 
looked upon me as a subject." 

" Then, Senora," continued Beatriz, looking up into Isa- 
bella's face, and laughing — ■" was your own royal kinsman, 
Don Ricardo of Gloucester ; he that they say was born with 
teeth, and who carries already a burthen so heavy on his back, 
that he may well thank his patron saint that he is not also to 
be loaded with the affairs of Castile."* 

"Thy tongue runneth riot, Beatriz. They tell me that Don 
Ricardo is a noble and aspiring prince ; that he is, one day, 
likely to wed some princess, whose merit may well console him 
for his failure in Castile. But what more hast thou to offer 
concerning my suitors ?" 

* Note. — The authorities differ as to which of the English princes was the suitor of 
Isabella; Edward IV. himself, Clarence, or Richard. Isabella was the grand-daughter 
of Catherine of Lancaster, who was a daughter of John of Gaunt. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 35 

" Nay, what more can I say, my beloved mistress ? We have 
now reached Don Fernando, literally the first, as he proveth to 
be the last, and as we know him to be, the best of them all." 

" I think I have been guided by the motives that become my 
birth and future hopes, in choosing Don Ferdinand," said Isa- 
bella, meekly, though she was uneasy in spite of her royal 
views of matrimony; " since nothing can so much tend to the 
peace of our dear kingdom, and to the success of the great cause 
of Christianity, as to unite Castile and Aragon under one crown." 

"By uniting their sovereigns in holy wedlock," returned 
Beatriz, with respectful gravity, though a smile again struggled 
around her pouting lips. " What if Don Fernando is the most 
youthful, the handsomest, the most valiant, and the most agree- 
able prince in Christendom, it is no fault of yours, since you 
did not make him, but have only accepted him for a husband !" 

" Nay, this exceedeth discretion and respect, my good 
Beatriz," returned Isabella, affecting to frown, even while she 
blushed deeply at her own emotions, and looked gratified at the 
praises of her betrothed. " Thou knowest that I have never 
beheld my cousin, the King of Sicily." 

"Very true, Sefiora; but Father Alonso de Coca hath — and 
a surer eye, or truer tongue than his, do not exist in Castile." 

" Beatriz, I pardon thy license, however unjust and unseem- 
ly, because I know thou lovest me, and lookest rather at mine 
own happiness, than at that of my people," said the princess, 
the effect of whose gravity now was not diminished by any be- 
trayal of natural feminine weakness — for she felt slightly offend- 
ed. "Thou knowest, or ought' st to know, that a maiden of 
royal birth is bound principally to consult the interests of the 
state, in bestowing her hand, and that the idle fancies of village 
girls have little in common with her duties. Nay, what virgin 
of noble extraction, like thyself, even, would dream of aught 
else than of submitting to the counsel of her family, in 
taking a husband ? If I have selected Don Fernando of Ara- 
gon, from among many princes, it is, doubtless, because the 
alliance is more suited to the interests of Castile, than any other 



30 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

that hath, offered. Thou seest, Beatriz, that the Castilians and 
the Aragonese spring from the same source, and have the same 
habits and prejudices. They speak the same language" — 

" Nay, dearest lady, do not confound the pure Castilian with 
the dialect of the mountains !" 

" Well, have thy fling, wayward one, if thou wilt; but we 
can easier teach the nobles of Aragon our purer Spanish, than 
we can teach it to the Gaul. Then, Don Fernando is of my 
own race ; the House of Trastamara cometh of Castile and her 
monarchs, and we may at least hope that the King of Sicily 
will be able to make himself understood." 

" If he could not, he were no true knight ! The man whose 
tongue should fail him, when the stake was a royal maiden of 
a beauty surpassing that of the dawn — of an excellence that 
already touches on heaven — of a crown" — 

" Girl, girl, thy tongue is getting the mastery of thee — such 
discourse ill befitteth thee and me." 

" And yet, Dona Ysabel, my tongue is close bound to ray 
heart." 

"I do believe thee, my good Beatriz ; but we should bethink 
us both of our last strivings, and of the ghostly counsel that 
we then received. Such flattering discourse seemeth light, 
when we remember our manifold transgressions, and our many 
occasions for forgiveness. As for this marriage, I would have 
thee think that it has been contracted on my part, with the 
considerations and motives of a princess, and not through any 
light indulgence of my fancies. Thou knowest that I have 
never beheld Don Fernando, and that he hath never even look- 
ed upon me." 

" Assuredly, dearest lady and honored mistress, all this I 
know, and see, and believe ; and I also agree that it were un- 
seemly and little befitting her birth, for even a noble maiden to 
contract the all-important obligations of marriage, with no bet- 
ter motive than the light impulses of a country wench. Noth- 
ing is more just than that we are alike bound to consult our own 
dignity, and the wishes of kinsmen and friends ; and that 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 37 

our duty, and the habits of piety and submission in which we 
have been reared, are better pledges for our connubial affection 
than any caprices of a girlish imagination. Still, my honored 
lady, it is most fortunate that your high obligations point to one 
as youthful, brave, noble, and chivalrous, as is the King of Sicily, 
as we well know, by Father Alonso's representations, to be the 
fact ; and that all my friends unite in saying that Don Andres 
de Cabrera, madcap and silly as he is, will make an exceedingly 
excellent husband for Beatriz de Bobadilla !" 

Isabella, habitually dignified and reserved as she was, had 
her confidants and her moments for unbending ; and Beatriz 
was the principal among the former, while the present instant 
was one of the latter. She smiled, therefore, at this sally ; and 
parting, with her own fair hand, the dark locks on the brow of 
her friend, she regarded her much as the mother regards her 
child, when sudden passages of tendernesss come over the 
heart. 

"If madcap should wed madcap, thy friends, at least, have 
judged rightly," answered the princess. Then, pausing an in- 
stant, as if in deep thought, she continued in a graver manner, 
though modesty shone in her tell-tale complexion, and the sen- 
sibility that beamed in her eyes betrayed that she now felt more 
as a woman than as a future queen bent only on the happiness 
of her people: "As this interview draweth near, I suffer an 
embarrassment I had not thought it easy to inflict on an Infanta 
of Castile. To thee, my faithful Beatriz, I will acknowledge, 
that were the King of Sicily as old as Don Alfonso of Portugal, 
or were he as effeminate and unmanly as Monsieur of Guienne ; 
were he, in sooth, less engaging and young, I should feel less 
embarrassment in meeting him, than I now experience." 

"This is passing strange, Senora ! Now, I will confess that 
I would not willingly abate in Don Andres, one hour of his life, 
which has been sufficiently long as it is ; one grace of his per- 
son, if indeed the honest cavalier hath any to boast of; or one 
single perfection of either body or mind." 

"Thy case is not mine, Beatriz. Thou knowest the Marquis 



38 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

of Moya ; hast listened to his discourse, and art accustomed to 
bis praises and his admiration. " 

"Holy St. lago of Spain ! Do not distrust any thing, Seno- 
ra, on account of unfamiliarity with such matters — for, of all 
learning, it is easiest to learn to relish praise and admiration 1" 

"True, daughter" — (for so Isabella often termed her friend, 
though her junior : in later life, and after the princess had be- 
come a queen, this, indeed, was her usual term of endearment) 
— "true, daughter, when praise and admiration are freely given 
and fairly merited. But I distrust, myself, my claims to be thus 
viewed, and the feelings with which Don Fernando may first 
behold me. I know — nay, I feel him to be graceful, and noble, 
and valiant, and generous, and good ; comely to the eye, and 
strict of duty to our holy religion ; as illustrious in qualities as 
in birth ; and I tremble to think of my own unsuitableness to 
be his bride and queen." 

"God's Justice ! — I should like to meet the impudent Ara- 
gonese noble that would dare to hint as much as this ! If Don 
Fernando is noble, are you not nobler, Senora, as coming of the 
senior branch of the same house ; if he is young, are you not 
equally so ; if he is wise, are you not wiser ; if he is comely, 
are you not more of an angel than a woman ; if he is valiant, 
are you not virtuous ; if he is graceful, are you not grace itself; 
if he is generous, are you not good, and what is more, are you 
not the very soul of generosity ; if he is strict of duty in mat- 
ters of our holy religion, are you not an angel ?" 

" Glood sooth — good sooth — Beatriz, thou art a comforter ! 
I could reprove thee for this idle tongue, but I know thee 
honest." 

" This is no more than that deep modesty, honored mistress, 
which ever maketh you quicker to see the merits of others, 
than to perceive your own. Let Don Fernando look to it! 
Though he come in all the pomp and glory of his many crowns, 
I warrant you we find him a royal maiden in Castile, who shall 
abash him and rebuke his vanity, even while she appears before 
him in the sweet guise of her own meek nature !" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 39 

"I have said naught of Don Fernando's vanity, Beatriz — nor 
do I esteem him in the least inclined to so weak a feeling ; and 
as for pomp, we well know that gold no more abounds at 
Zaragosa than at Valladolid, albeit he hath many crowns, in 
possession, and in reserve. Notwithstanding all thy foolish but 
friendly tongue hath uttered, I distrust myself, and not the 
King of Sicily. Methinks I could meet any other prince in 
Christendom with indifference — or, at least, as becometh my 
rank and sex; but I confess, I tremble at the thought of en- 
countering the eyes and opinions of my noble cousin." 

Beatriz listened with interest ; and when her royal mistress 
ceased speaking, she kissed her hand affectionately, and then 
pressed it to her heart. 

"Let Don Fernando tremble, rather, Senora, at encountering 
yours," she answered. 

"Nay, Beatriz, we know that he hath nothing to dread, for 
report speaketh but too favorably of him. But, why linger 
here in doubt and apprehension, when the staff on which it is 
my duty to lean, is ready to receive its burthen : Father Alonso 
doubtless waiteth for us, and we will now join him." 

The princess and her friend now repaired to the chapel of the 
palace, where her confessor celebrated the daily mass. The 
self-distrust which disturbed the feelings of the modest Isabella 
was appeased by the holy rites, or, rather, it took refuge on that 
rock where she was accustomed to place all her troubles, with 
her sins. As the little assemblage left the chapel, one, hot 
with haste, arrived with the expected, but still doubted tidings, 
that the King of Sicily had reached Duenas in safety, and that, 
as he was now in the very centre of his supporters, there could 
no longer be any reasonable distrust of the speedy celebration 
of the contemplated marriage. 

Isabella was much overcome with this news, and required 
more than usual of the care of Beatriz de Bobadilla, to restore 
her to that sweet serenity of mind and air, which ordinarily 
rendered her presence as attractive as it was commanding. An 
hour or two spent in meditation and prayer, however, finally 



40 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

produced a gentle calm in hex feelings, and these two friends 
were again alone, in the very apartment where we first intro- 
duced them to the reader. 

"Hast thou seen Don Andres de Cabrera?" demanded the 
princess, taking a hand from a brow which had been often 
pressed in a sort of bewildered recollection. 

Beatriz de Bobadilla blushed — and then she laughed out- 
right, with a freedom that the long-established affection of her 
mistress did not rebuke. 

" For a youth of thirty, and a cavalier well hacked in the 
wars of the Moors, Don Andres hath a nimble foot," she an- 
swered. "He brought hither the tidings of the arrival; and 
with it he brought his own delightful person, to show it was no 
lie. For one so experienced, he hath a strong propensity to 
talk ; and so, in sooth, while you, my honored mistress, would 
be in your closet alone, I could but listen to all the marvels of 
the journey. It seems, Senora, that they did not reach Duenas 
any too soon ; for the only purse among them was mislaid, or 
blown away by the wind on account of its lightness." 

" I trust this accident hath been repaired. Few of the house 
of Trastamara have much gold at this trying moment, and yet 
none are wont to be entirely without it." 

"Don Andres is neither beggar nor miser. He is now in 
our Castile, where I doubt not he is familiar with the Jews and 
money-lenders ; as these last must know the full value of his 
lands, the King of Sicily will not want. I hear, too, that the 
Count of Trevino hath conducted nobly with him." 

" It shall be well for the Count of Trevino that he hath had 
this liberality. But, Beatriz, bring forth the writing materials ; 
it is meet that I, at once, acquaint Don Enriquez with this 
event, and with my purpose of marriage." 

" Nay, dearest mistress, this is out of all rule. When a 
maiden, gentle or simple, intendeth marriage against her kins- 
men's wishes, it is the way to wed first, and to write the letter 
and ask the blessing when the evil is done." 

" Go to, light-of-speech ! Thou hast spoken ; now bring the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 41 

pens and paper. The king is not only my lord and sovereign, 
but lie is my nearest of kin, and should be my father." 

" And Dona Joanna of Portugal, his royal consort, and our 
illustrious queen, should be your mother ; and a fitting guide 
would she be to any modest virgin ! No — no — my beloved 
mistress ; your royal mother was the Dofia Isabella of Portugal 
— and a very different princess was she from this, her wanton 
niece." 

"Thou givest thyself too much license, Dona Beatriz, and 
forgettest my request. I desire to write to my brother the 
king/' 

It was so seldom that Isabella spoke sternly, that her friend 
started, and the tears rushed to her eyes at this rebuke ; but 
she procured the writing materials, before she presumed to 
look into Isabella's face, in order to ascertain if she were really 
angered. There all was beautiful serenity again ; and the Lady 
of Bobadilla, perceiving that her mistress's mind was altogether 
occupied with the matter before her, and that she had already 
forgotten her displeasure, chose to make no further allusion to 
the subject. 

Isabella now wrote her celebrated letter, in which she ap- 
peared to forget all her natural timidity, and to speak solely as 
a princess. By the treaty of Toros de Guisando, in which, 
setting aside the claims of Joanna of Portugal's daughter, she 
had been recognized as the heiress of the throne, it had been 
stipulated that she should not marry without the king's con- 
sent ; and she now apologized for the step she was about to 
take, on the substantial plea that her enemies had disregarded 
the solemn compact entered into not to urge her into any union 
that was unsuitable or disagreeable to herself. She then allud- 
ed to the political advantages that would follow the union of 
the crowns of Castile and Aragon, and solicited the king's 
approbation of the step she was about to take. This' letter, 
after having been submitted to John de Vivero, and others of 
her council, was dispatched by a special messenger — after 
which act the arrangements necessary as preliminaries to a 



42 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

meeting between the betrothed were entered into. Castilian 
etiquette was proverbial, even in that age ; and the discussion 
led to a proposal that Isabella rejected with her usual modesty 
and discretion. 

"It seemeth to me," said John de Vivero, "that this alli- 
ance should not take place without some admission, on the 
part of Don Fernando, of the inferiority of Aragon to our own 
Castile. The house of the latter kingdom is but a junior 
branch of the reigning House of Castile, and the former terri- 
tory of old was admitted to have a dependency on the latter." 

This proposition was much applauded, until the beautiful and 
natural sentiments of the princess, herself, interposed to expose 
its weakness and its deformities. 

"It is doubtless true," she said, "that Don Juan of Aragon 
is the son of the younger brother of my royal grandfather ; 
but he is none the less a king. Nay, besides his crown of Ara- 
gon — a country, if thou wilt, which is inferior to Castile — he 
hath those of Naples and Sicily ; not to speak of Navarre, over 
which he ruleth, although it may not be with too much right. 
Don Fernando even weareth the crown of Sicily, by the renun- 
ciation of Don Juan ; and shall he, a crowned sovereign, make 
concessions to one who is barely a princess, and whom it may 
never please God to conduct to a throne ? Moreover, Don 
John of Vivero, I beseech thee to remember the errand that 
bringeth the King of Sicily to Valladodid. Both he and I 
have two parts to perform, and two characters to maintain — 
those of prince and princess, and those of Christians wedded 
and bound by holy marriage ties. It would ill become one 
that is about to take on herself the duties and obligations of a 
wife, to begin the intercourse with exactions that should be 
humiliating to the pride and self-respect of her lord. Aragon 
may truly be an inferior realm to Castile — but Ferdinand of 
Aragon is even now every way the equal of Isabella of Castile ; 
and when he shah receive my vows, and, with them, my duty 
and my affections" — Isabella's color deepened, and her mild 
eye lighted with a sort of holy enthusiasm — " as befitteth a 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 43 

woman, though an infidel, lie would become, in some particu- 
lars, my superior. Let me, then, hear no more of this ; for 
it could not nearly as much pain Don Fernando to make the 
concessions ye require, as it paineth me to hear of them." 



44 



MERCEDES OF CASTILB, 



CHAPTER III. 

h Nice customs curfsyto great kings. Dear Kate, you ami I cannot be confined 
within the weak list of a country's fashion. "We are the makers of manners ; and the 
liberty that follows our places, stops the mouths of all fault-finders.' 1 — Henry V. 

Notwithstanding her high resolution, habitual firmness, and 
a serenity of mind, that seemed to pervade the moral system of 
Isabella, like a deep, quiet current of enthusiasm, but which it 
were truer to assign to the high and fixed principles that guided 
all her actions, her heart beat tumultuously, and her native 
reserve, which almost amounted to shyness, troubled her sorely, 
as the hour arrived when she was first to behold the prince she 
had accepted for a husband. Castilian etiquette, no less than 
the magnitude of the political interests involved in the intended 
union, had drawn out the preliminary negotiations several days; 
the bridegroom being left, all that time, to curb his impatience 
to behold the princess, as best he might. 

On the evening of the 15th of October, 1469, however, every 
obstacle being at length removed, Don Fernando threw himself 
into the saddle, and, accompanied by only four attendants, 
among whom was Andres de Cabrera, he quietly took his way, 
without any of the usual accompaniments of his high rank, to- 
ward the palace of John of Vivero, in the city of Valladolid. 
The Archbishop of Toledo was of the faction of the princess, 
and this prelate, a warlike and active partisan, was in readiness 
to receive the accepted suitor, and to conduct him to the pres- 
ence of his mistress. 

Isabella, attended only by Beatriz de Bobadilla, was in wait- 
ing for the interview, in the apartment already mentioned ; and 
by one of those mighty efforts that even the most retiring of 
the sex can make, on great occasions, she received her future 
husband with quite as much of the dignity of a princess as of 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 45 

the timidity of a woman. Ferdinand of Aragon had been pre- 
pared to meet one of singular grace and beauty ; but the mix- 
ture of angelic modesty with a loveliness that almost surpassed 
that of her sex, produced a picture approaching so much nearer 
to heaven than to earth, that, though one of circumspect be- 
havior, and much accustomed to suppress emotion, he actually 
started, and his feet were momentarily riveted to the floor, 
when the glorious vision first met his eye. Then, recovering 
himself, he advanced eagerly, and taking the little hand which 
neither met nor repulsed the attempt, he pressed it to his lips 
with a warmth that seldom accompanies the first interviews of 
those whose passions are usually so factitious. 

"This happy moment hath at length arrived, my illustrious 
and beautiful cousin !" he said, with a truth of feeling that went 
directly to the pure and tender heart of Isabella ; for no skill 
in courtly phrases can ever give to the accents of deceit, the 
point and emphasis that belong to sincerity. " I have thought it 
would never arrive ; but this blessed moment — thanks to our 
own St. Iago, whom I have not ceased to implore with interces- 
sions — more than rew T ards me for all anxieties.'' 

" I thank my Lord the Prince, and bid him right welcome," 
modestly returned Isabella. "The difficulties that have been 
overcome, in order to effect this meeting, are but t}^pes of the 
difficulties we shall have to conquer as we advance through 
life." 

Then followed a few courteous expressions concerning the 
hopes of the princess that her cousin had wanted for nothing, 
since his arrival in Castile, with suitable answers ; when Don 
Ferdinand led her to an armed-chair, assuming himself the stool 
on which Beatriz de Bobadilla was wont to be seated, in her 
familiar intercourse with her royal mistress. Isabella, how T ever, 
sensitively alive to the pretensions of the Castilians, who were 
fond of asserting the superiority of their own country over that 
of Aragon, would not quietly submit to this arrangement, but 
declined to be seated, unless her suitor w r ould take the chair 
prepared for him also, saying — 



46 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

"It ill befitteth one who hath little more than some royalty 
of blood, and her dependence on God, to be thus placed, while 
the King of Sicily is so unworthily bestowed. " 

"Let me entreat that it may be so," returned the king. "All 
considerations of earthly rank vanish in this presence ; view me 
as a knight, ready and desirous of proving his fealty in any court 
or field of Christendom, and treat me as such." 

Isabella, who had that high tact which teaches the precise 
point where breeding becomes neuter and airs commence, 
blushed and smiled, but no longer declined to be seated. It 
was not so much the mere words of her cousin that went to her 
heart, as the undisguised admiration of his looks, the animation 
of his eye, and the frank sincerity of his manner. With a 
woman's instinct she perceived that the impression she had 
made was favorable, and, with a woman's sensibility, her heart 
was ready, under the circumstances, to dissolve in tenderness at 
the discovery. This mutual satisfaction soon opened the way 
to a freer conversation ; and, ere half an hour was passed, the 
archbishop — who, though officially ignorant of the language and 
wishes of lovers, was practically sufficiently familiar with both — 
contrived to draw the two or three courtiers who were present, 
into an adjoining room, where, though the door continued 
open, he placed them with so much discretion that neither 
eye nor ear could be any restraint on what was passing. As 
for Beatriz de Bobadilla, whom female etiquette required should 
remain in the same room with her royal mistress, she was so 
much engaged with Andres de Cabrera, that half a dozen 
thrones might have been disposed of between the royal pair, 
and she none the wiser. 

Although Isabella did not lose that mild reserve and feminine 
modesty that threw so winning a grace around her person, even 
to the day of her death, she gradually grew more calm as the 
discourse proceeded ; and, falling back on her self-respect, 
womanly dignity, and, not a little, on those stores of knowledge 
that she had been diligently collecting, while others similarly 
situated had wasted their time in the vanities of courts, she was 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 47 

quickly at her ease, if not wholly in that tranquil state of mind 
to which she had been accustomed. 

"I trust there can now be no longer any delay to the cele- 
bration of our union by holy church," observed the king, in 
continuation of the subject. " All that can be required of us 
both, as those entrusted with the cares and interests of realms, 
hath been observed, and I may have a claim to look to my 
own happiness. We are not strangers to each other, Dona 
Isabella ; for our grandfathers were brothers, and from infancy 
up, have I been taught to reverence thy virtues, and to strive 
to emulate thy holy duty to God." 

"I have not betrothed myself lightly, Don Fernando," re- 
turned the princess, blushing, even while she assumed the 
majesty of a queen ; " and with the subject so fully discussed, 
the wisdom of the union so fully established, and the necessity 
of promptness so apparent, no idle delays shall proceed from 
me. I had thought that the ceremony might be had on the 
fourth day from this, which will give us both time to prepare 
for an occasion so solemn, by suitable attention to the offices 
of the church. 7 ' 

"It must be as thou wiliest," said the king, respectfully 
bowing; "and now there remaineth but a few preparations, 
and we shall have no reproaches of forgetfulness. Thou know- 
est, Dona Isabella, how sorely my father is beset by his ene- 
mies, and I need scarce tell thee that his coffers are empty. 
In good sooth, my fair cousin, nothing but my earnest desire 
to possess myself, at as early a day as possible, of the precious 
boon that Providence and thy goodness" — 

"Mingle not, Don Fernando, any of the acts of God and his 
providence, with the wisdom and petty expedients of his crea- 
tures," said Isabella, earnestly. 

"To seize upon the precious boon, then, that Providence 
appeared willing to bestow," rejoined the king, crossing him- 
self, while he bowed his head, as much, perhaps, in deference 
to the pious feelings of his affianced wife, as in deference to a 
higher Power — "would not admit of delay,' and we quitted 



48 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Zaragosa better provided with hearts loyal toward the treasures 
we were to find in Valladolid, than with gold. Even that we 
had, by a mischance, hath gone to enrich some lucky varlet 
in an inn." | 

" Dona Beatriz de Bobadilla hath acquainted me with the mis- 
hap," said Isabella, smiling; "and truly we shall commence our 
married lives with but few of the goods of the world in present 
possession. I have little more to offer thee, Fernando, than a 
true heart, and a spirit that I think may be trusted for its fidelity." 

" In obtaining thee, my excellent cousin, I obtain sufficient 
to satisfy the desires of any reasonable man. Still, something 
is due to our rank and future prospects, and it shall not be said 
that thy nuptials passed like those of a common subject." 

" Under ordinary circumstances it might not appear seemly 
for one of my sex* to furnish the means for her own bridal," 
answered the princess, the blood stealing to her face until it 
crimsoned even her brow and temples ; maintaining, otherwise, 
that beautiful tranquillity of mien which marked her ordinary 
manner — " but the well-being of two states depending on our 
union, vain emotions must be suppressed. I am not without 
jewels, and Valladolid hath many Hebrews : thou wilt permit 
me to part with the baubles for such an object." 

" So that thou preservest for me the jewel in which that 
pure mind is encased," said the King of Sicily, gallantly, " I 
care not if I never see another. But there will not be this need ; 
for our friends, who have more generous souls than well-filled 
coffers too, can give such warranty to the lenders as will pro- 
cure the means. I charge myself with this duty, for henceforth, 
my cousin — may I not say my betrothed V — 

"The term is even dearer than any that belongeth to blood, 
Fernando," answered the princess, with a simple sincerity of 
manner that set at nought the ordinary affectations and artificial 
feelings of her sex, while it left the deepest reverence for her 
modesty — "and we might be excused for using it. I trust 
God will bless our union, not only to our own happiness, but to 
that of our people." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 49 

"Then, my betrothed, henceforth we have but a common 
fortune, and thou wilt trust in me for the provision for thy 
wants." 

" Nay, Fernando," answered Isabella, smiling, " imagine 
what we will, we cannot imagine ourselves the children of two 
hidalgos about to set forth in the world with humble dowries. 
Thou art a king, even now ; and by the treaty of Toros de 
Guisando, I am solemnly recognized as the heiress of Castile. 
We must, therefore, have our separate means, as well as our 
separate duties, though I trust hardly our separate interests." 

" Thou wilt never find me failing in that respect which is 
due to thy rank, or in that duty which it befitteth me to render 
thee, as the head of our ancient House, next to thy royal 
brother, the king." 

"Thou hast well considered, Don Fernando, the treaty of 
marriage, and accepted cheerfully, I trust, all of its several 
conditions ?" 

"As becometh the importance of the measures, and the 
magnitude of the benefit I was to receive." 

" I would have them acceptable to thee, as well as expedient ; 
for, though so soon to become thy wife, I can never cease to 
remember that I shall be Queen of this country." 

"Thou mayest be assured, my beautiful betrothed, that Fer« 
dinand of Aragon will be the last to deem thee aught else." 

" I look on my duties as coming from God, and on myself as 
one rigidly accountable to him for their faithful discharge. Scep- 
tres may not be treated as toys, Fernando, to be trifled with ; for 
man beareth no heavier burden, than when he beareth a crown." 

"The maxims of our House have not been forgotten in Ara- 
gon, my betrothed — and I rejoice to find that they are the 
same in both kingdoms." 

"We are not to think principally of ourselves in entering 
upon this engagement," continued Isabella, earnestly — " for 
that w T ould be supplanting the duties of princes by the feelings 
of the lover. Thou hast frequently perused, and sufficiently 
conned the marriage articles, I trust V ' 



50 MERCEDES OF CiSTILE. 

" There hath been sufficient leisure for that, my cousin, as 
they have now been signed these nine months." 

"If I may have seemed to thee exacting in some particulars," 
continued Isabella, with the same earnest and beautiful sim- 
plicity as usually marked her deportment in all the relations of 
life — ".it is because the duties of a sovereign may not be over- 
looked. Thou knowest, moreover, Fernando, the influence 
that the husband is wont to acquire over the wife, and wilt feel 
the necessity of my protecting my Castilians, in the fullest 
manner, against my own weaknesses." 

" If thy Castilians do not suffer until they suffer from that 
cause, Doiia Isabella, their lot will indeed be blessed." 

" These are words of gallantry, and I must reprove their use 
on an occasion so serious, Fernando. I am a few months thy 
senior, and shall assume an elder sister's rights, until they are 
lost in the obligations of a wife. Thou hast seen in those arti- 
cles, how anxiously I would protect my Castilians against any 
supremacy of the stranger. Thou knowest that many of the 
greatest of this realm are opposed to our union, through appre- 
hension of Aragonese sway, and wilt observe how studiously we 
have striven to appease their jealousies." 

"Thy motives, Dona Isabella, have been understood, and thy 
wishes in this and all other particulars shall be respected." 

"I would be thy faithful and submissive wife," returned the 
princess, with an earnest but gentle look at her betrothed ; 
" but I would also that Castile should preserve her rights and 
her independence. What will be thy influence, the maiden that 
freely bestoweth her hand, need hardly say ; but we must pre- 
serve the appearance of separate states." 

" Confide in me, my cousin. They who live fifty years hence 
will say that Don Fernando knew how to respect his obligations 
and to discharge his duty." 

" There is the stipulation, too, to war upon the Moor. I 
shall never feel that the Christians of Spain have been true to 
the faith, while the follower of the arch-imposter of Mecca re- 
maineth in the peninsula." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 51 

" Thou and thy archbishop could not have imposed a more 
agreeable duty, than to place my lance in rest against the 
infidels. My spurs have been gained in those wars, already; 
and no sooner shall we be crowned, than thou wilt see my per- 
fect willingness to aid in driving back the miscreants to their 
original sands.' \ 

" There remaineth but one thing more upon my mind, gen- 
tle cousin. Thou knowest the evil influence that besets my 
brother, and that it hath disaffected a large portion of his 
nobles as well as of his cities. We shall both be sorely tempt- 
ed to wage war upon him, and to assume the sceptre before it 
pleaseth God to accord it to us, in the course of nature. I 
would have thee respect Don Enriquez, not only as the head of 
our royal house, but as my brother and anointed master. 
Should evil counsellors press him to attempt aught against our 
persons or rights, it will be lawful to resist ; but I pray thee, 
Fernando, on no excuse seek to raise thy hand in rebellion 
against my rightful sovereign." 

" Let Don Enriquez, then, be chary of his Beltraneja!" an- 
swered the prince with warmth. "By St. Peter! I have rights 
of mine own that come before those of that ill-gotten mongrel ! 
The whole House of Trastamara hath an interest in stifling that 
spurious scion which hath been so fraudulently engrafted on its 
princely stock !" 

" Thou art warm, Don Fernando, and even the eye of Bea- 
triz de Bobadilla reproveth thy heat. The unfortunate Joanna 
never can impair our rights to the throne, for there are few no- 
bles in Castile so unworthy as to wish to see the crown bestowed 
where it is believed the blood of Pelayo doth not flow." 

"Don Enriquez hath not kept faith with thee, Isabella, since 
the treaty of Toros de Guisando !" 

"My brother is surrounded by wicked counsellors — and 
then, Fernando," — the princess blushed crimson as she spoke — - 
" neither have we been able rigidly to adhere to that conven- 
tion, since one of its conditions was that my hand should not bo 
bestowed without the consent of the king." 



52 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

a He hath driven us into this measure, and hath only to re- 
proach himself with our failure on this point." 

" I endeavor so to view it, though many have been my pray- 
ers for forgiveness of this seeming breach of faith. I am not 
superstitious, Fernando, else might I think God would frown on 
a union that is contracted in the face of pledges like these. 
But, it is well to distinguish between motives, and we have a 
right to believe that He who readeth the heart, will not judge 
the well-intentioned severely. Had not Don Enriquez attempt- 
ed to seize my person, with the plain purpose of forcing me to 
a marriage against my will, this decisive step could not have 
been necessary, and would not have been taken." 

" I have reason to thank my patron saint, beautiful cousin, 
that thy will was less compliant than thy tyrants had believed." 

" I could not plight my troth to the King of Portugal, or to 
Monsieur de Guienne, or to any that they proposed to me, for 
my future lord," answered Isabella, ingenuously. " It ill be- 
fitted royal or noble maidens to set up their own inexperienced 
caprices in opposition to the wisdom of their friends, and the 
task is not difficult for a virtuous wife to learn to love her 
husband, when nature and opinion are not too openly vio- 
lated in the choice ; but I have had too much thought for my 
soul to wish to expose it to so severe a trial, in contracting the 
marriage duties." 

" I feel that I am only too unworthy of thee, Isabella — -but 
thou must train me to be that thou wouldst wish ; I can only 
promise thee a most willing and attentive scholar." 

The discourse now became more general, Isabella indulging 
her natural curiosity and affectionate nature, by making many 
inquiries concerning her different relatives in Aragon. After 
the interview had lasted two hours or more, the King of Sicily 
returned to Duefias, with the same privacy as he had observed 
in entering the town. The royal pair parted with feelings of 
increased esteem and respect, Isabella indulging in those gentle 
anticipations of domestic happiness that more properly belong 
to the tender nature of woman. 



MERCEDES OF CAS. TILE. 53 

The marriage took place, with suitable pomp, on the morn- 
ing of the 19th October, 1469, in the chapel of John de Vive- 
ro's palace ; no less than two thousand persons, principally of 
condition, witnessing the ceremony. Just as the officiating 
priest was about to commence the offices, the eye of Isabella 
betrayed uneasiness, and turning to the Archbishop of Toledo, 
she said — 

"Your grace hath promised that there should be nothing 
wanting to the consent of the church on this solemn occasion. 
Tt is known that Don Fernando of Aragon and I stand within 
the prohibited degrees." 

"Most true, my Lady Isabella," returned the prelate, with a 
composed mien and a paternal smile. " Happily, our Holy 
Father Pius hath removed this impediment, and the church 
smileth on this blessed union in every particular." 

The archbishop then took out of his pocket a dispensation, 
which he read in a clear, sonorous, steady voice ; when every 
shade disappeared from the serene brow of Isabella, and the 
ceremony proceeded. Years elapsed before this pious and 
submissive Christian princess discovered that she had been 
imposed on, the bull that was then read having been an inven- 
tion of the old King of Aragon and the prelate, not without 
suspicions of a connivance on the part of the bridegroom. 
This deception had been practised from a perfect conviction 
that the sovereign pontiff was too much under the influence 
of the King of Castile, to consent to bestow the boon in oppo- 
sition to that monarch's wishes. It was several years before 
Sixtus IV. repaired this wrong, by granting a more genuine 
authority. 

Nevertheless, Ferdinand and Isabella became man and wife. 
What followed in the next twenty years must be rather glanced 
at than related. Henry IV. resented the step, and vain at- 
tempts were made to substitute his supposititious child, La 
Beltraneja, in the place of his sister, as successor to the throne. 
A civil war ensued, during which Isabella steadily refused to 
assume the crown, though often entreated ; limiting her efforts 
3 



54 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

to the maintenance of her rights as heiress presumptive. In 
1474, or five years after her marriage, Don Henry died, and 
she then became Queen of Castile, though her spurious niece 
was also proclaimed by a small party among her subjects. The 
war of the succession, as it was called, lasted five years longer, 
when Joanna, or La Beltraneja, assumed the veil, and the 
rights of Isabella were generally acknowledged. About the 
same time, died Don John II., when Ferdinand mounted the 
throne of Aragon. These events virtually reduced the sove- 
reignties of the peninsula, which had so long been cut up into 
petty states, to four, viz., the possessions of Ferdinand and 
Isabella, which included Castile, Leon, Aragon, Valencia, and 
many other of the finest provinces of Spain ; Navarre, an in- 
significant kingdom in the Pyrenees ; Portugal, much as it 
exists to-day ; and Granada, the last abiding-place of the Moor, 
north of the strait of Gibraltar. 

Neither Ferdinand, nor his royal consort, was forgetful of 
that clause in their marriage contract, which bound the for- 
mer to undertake a war for the destruction of the Moorish 
power. The course of events, however, caused a delay of 
many years, in putting this long-projected plan in execution ; 
but w T hen the time finally arrived, that Providence which 
seemed disposed to conduct the pious Isabella, through a train 
of important incidents, from the reduced condition in which 
we have just described her to have been, to the summit of 
human power, did not desert its favorite. Success succeeded 
success — and victory, victory ; until the Moor had lost fortress 
after fortress, town after town, and was finally besieged in his 
very capital — his last hold in the peninsula. As the reduction 
of Granada was an event that, in Christian eyes, was to be 
ranked second only to the rescuing of the holy sepulchre 
from the hands of the Infidels, so was it distinguished by 
some features of singularity, that have probably never before 
marked the course of a siege. The place submitted on the 
25th November, 1491 — twenty-two years after the date of the 
marriage just mentioned, and, it may not be amiss to observe, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 55 

on the very day of the year that has become memorable in the 
annals of this country, as that on which the English, three cen- 
turies later, reluctantly yielded their last foothold on the coast 
of the republic. 

In the course of the preceding summer, while the Spanish 
forces lay before the town, and Isabella, with her children, were 
anxious witnesses of the progress of events, an accident occurred 
that had well nigh proved fatal to the royal family, and brought 
destruction on the Christian arms. The pavillion of the queen 
took fire, and was consumed, placing the whole encampment in 
the utmost jeopardy. ■ Many of the tents of the nobles were 
also destroyed, and much treasure, in the shape of jewelry and 
plate, was lost, though the injury went no further. In order to 
guard against the recurrence of such an accident, and probably 
viewing the subjection of Granada as the great act of their 
mutual reign — for, as yet, Time threw his veil around the future, 
and but one human eye foresaw the greatest of all the events of 
the period, which was still in reserve — the sovereigns resolved 
on attempting a work that, of itself, would render this siege 
memorable. The plan of a regular town was made, and labor- 
ers set about the construction of good substantial edifices, in 
which to lodge the army ; thus converting the warfare into that 
of something like city against city. In three -months this stu- 
pendous work was completed, with its avenues, streets, and 
squares, and received the name of Santa Fe, or Holy Faith — an 
appellation quite as well suited to the zeal which could achieve 
such a work, in the heat of a campaign, as to that general re- 
liance on the providence of God which animated the Christians 
in carrying on the war. The construction of this place struck 
terror into the hearts of the Moors, for they considered it a 
proof that their enemies intended to give up the conflict only 
with their lives ; and it is highly probable that it had a direct 
and immediate influence on the submission of Boabdil, the 
King of Granada, who yielded the Alhambra a few weeks after 
the Spaniards had taken possession of their new abodes. 

Santa Fe still exists, and is visited by the traveller as a place 



56 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



of curious origin ; while it is rendered remarkable by the fact 
— real or assumed — that it is the only town of any size in 
Spain, that has never been under Moorish sway. 

The main incidents of our tale will now transport us to this 
era, and to this scene ; all that has been related as yet, being 
merely introductory matter, to prepare the reader for the events 
that are to follow. 




MERCEDES OF CASTIL] 



57 



CHAPTER IV. 

u What thing a right line is, the learned know; 
But how availes that hiin, who in the right 
Of life and manners doth desire to grow ? 

What then are all these humane arts, and lights, 
But seas of errors ? In whose depths who sound, 
Of truth finde only shadowes, and no ground." 

Human Learning. 

The morning of the 2d of January, 1492, was ushered in 
with a solemnity and pomp that were unusual even in a court 
and camp as much addicted to religious observances and royal 
magnificence, as that of Ferdinand and Isabella. The sun had 
scarce appeared, when all in the extraordinary little city of 
Santa Fe were afoot, and elate with triumph. The negotiations 
for the surrender of Granada, which had been going on secretly 
for weeks, were terminated ; the army and nation had been 
formally apprised of their results, and this was the day set for 
the entry of the conquerors. 

The court had been in mourning for Don Alonso of Portugal, 
the husband of the Princess Royal of Castile, who had died a 
bridegroom; but on this joyous occasion the trappings of woe 
were cast aside, and all appeared in their gayest and most mag- 
nificent apparel. At an hour that was still early, the Grand 
Cardinal moved forward, ascending what is called the Hill of 
Martyrs, at the head of a strong body of troops, with a view to 
take possession. While making the ascent, a party of Moorish 
cavaliers was met ; and at their head rode one in whom, by the 
dignity of his mien and the anguish of his countenance, it was 
easy to recognize the mental suffering of Boabdil, or Abdallah, 
the deposed monarch. The cardinal pointed out the position 
occupied by Ferdinand, who, with that admixture of piety and 



53 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

worldly policy which were so closely interwoven in his charac- 
ter, had refused to enter within the walls of the conquered city, 
until the symbol of Christ had superseded the banners of Ma- 
homet ; and who had taken his station at some distance from the 
gates, with a purpose and display of humility that were suited 
to the particular fanaticism of the period. As the interview 
that occurred has often been related, and twice quite recently 
by distinguished writers of our own country, it is unnecessary 
to dwell on it here. Abdallah next sought the presence of the 
purer-minded and gentle Isabella, where his reception, with 
less affection of the character, had more of the real charity and 
compassion of the Christian ; when he went his way toward that 
pass in the mountains that has ever since been celebrated as the 
point where he took his last view of the palaces and towers of 
his fathers, from which it has obtained the poetical and touch- 
ing name of El Ultimo Suspiro Del Moro. 

Although the passage of the last King of Granada, from his 
palace to the hills, was in no manner delayed, as it was grave 
and conducted with dignity, it consequently occupied some 
time. These were hours in which the multitude covered the 
highways, and the adjacent fields were garnished with a living 
throng, all of whom kept their eyes riveted on the towers of the 
Alhambra, where the signs of possession were anxiously looked 
for by every good Catholic who witnessed the triumph of* his 
religion. 

Isabella, who had made this conquest a condition in the 
articles of marriage — whose victory in truth it was — abstained, 
with her native modesty, from pressing forward on this occasion. 
She had placed herself at some distance in the rear of the posi- 
tion of Ferdinand. Still — unless, indeed, we except the long- 
coveted towers of the Alhambra — she was the centre of attrac- 
tion. She appeared in royal magnificence, as due to the glory 
of the occasion ; her beauty always rendered her an object of 
admiration ; her mildness, inflexible justice, and unyielding 
truth, had won all hearts ; and she was really the person who 
was most to profit by the victory, Granada being attached to 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 59 

her own crown of Castile, and not to that of Aragon, a country 
that possessed little or no contiguous territory. 

Previously to the appearance of Abdallali, the crowd moved 
freely, in all directions ; multitudes of civilians having flocked 
to the camp to witness the entry. Among others were many 
friars, priests, and monks — the war, indeed, having the character 
of a crusade. The throng of the curious was densest near the 
person of the queen, where, in truth, the magnificence of the 
court was the most imposing. Around this spot, in particular, 
congregated most of the religious, for they felt that the pious 
mind of Isabella created a sort of moral atmosphere in and near 
her presence, that was peculiarly suited to their habits, and 
favorable to their consideration. Among others, was a friar of 
prepossessing mien, and, in fact, of noble birth, who had been 
respectfully addressed as Father Pedro, by several grandees, as 
he made his way from the immediate presence of the queen, to 
a spot where the circulation was easier. He was accompanied 
by a youth of an air so much superior to that of most of those 
who did not appear that day in the saddle, that he attracted 
general attention. Although not more than twenty, it was 
evident, from his muscular frame, and embrowned but florid 
cheeks, that he was acquainted with exposure ; and by his 
bearing, many thought, notwithstanding he did not appear in 
armor on an occasion so peculiarly military, that both his mien 
and his frame had been improved by familiarity with war. His 
attire was simple, as if he rather avoided than sought observa- 
tion, but it was, nevertheless, such as was worn by none but 
the noble. Several of those who watched this youth, as he 
reached the less confined portions of the crowd, had seen him 
received graciously by Isabella, whose hand he had even been 
permitted to kiss, a favor that the formal and fastidious court 
of Castile seldom bestowed except on the worthy, or on those, 
at least, who were unusually illustrious from their birth. Some 
whispered that he was a Guzman, a family that was almost 
royal ; while others thought that he might be a Ponce, a name 
that had got to be one of the first in Spain, through the deeds 



60 MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 

of the renowned Marquis-Duke of Cadiz, in this very war ; while 
others, again, affected to discern in his lofty brow, firm step, 
and animated eye, the port and countenance of a Mendoza. 

It was evident that the subject of all these commentaries 
was unconscious of the notice that was attracted by his vigor- 
ous form, handsome face, and elastic, lofty tread ; for, like one 
accustomed to be observed by inferiors, his attention was con- 
fined to such objects as amused his eye, or pleased his fancy, 
while he lent a willing ear to the remarks that, from time to 
time, fell from the lips of his reverend companion. 

"This is a most blessed and glorious day for Christianity 1" 
observed the friar, after a pause a little longer than common. 
" An impious reign of seven hundred years hath expired, and the 
Moor is at length lowered from his pride ; while the cross is ele- 
vated above the banners of the false prophet. Thou hast had an- 
cestors, my son, who might almost arise from their tombs, and 
walk the earth in exultation, if the tidings of these changes were 
permitted to reach the souls of Christians long since departed." 

" The Blessed Maria intercede for them, father, that they 
may not be disturbed, even to see the Moor unhoused ; for I 
doubt much, agreeable as the Infidel hath made it, if they find 
Granada as pleasant as Paradise." 

"Son Don Luis, thou hast got much levity of speech, in thy 
late journey ings ; and I doubt if thou art as mindful of thy 
paters and confessions, as when under the care of thy excellent 
mother, of sainted memory !" 

This was not only said reprovingly, but with a warmth that 
amounted nearly to anger. 

"Chide me not so warmly, father, for a lightness of speech 
that cometh of youthful levity, rather than of disrespect for holy 
church. Nay, thou rebukest warmly, and then, as I come like 
a penitent to lay my transgressions before thee, and to seek ab- 
solution, thou fastenest thine eye on vacancy, and gazest as if 
one of the spirits of which thou so lately spokest actually had 
arisen and come to see the Moor crack his heart-strings at 
quitting his beloved Alhambra!" 



MERCEDES. OF CASTILE. 61 

" Dost see that man, Luis!" demanded the friar, still gazing 
in a fixed direction, though he made no gesture to indicate to 
which particular individual of the many who were passing in all 
directions, he especially alluded. 

a By my veracity, I see a thousand, father, though not one to 
fasten the eye as if he were fresh from Paradise. Would it be ex- 
ceeding discretion to ask who or what hath thus riveted thy gaze ?" 

"Dost see yonder person of high and commanding stature, 
and in whom gravity and dignity are so singularly mingled with 
an air of poverty ; or, if not absolutely of poverty — for he is 
better clad, and, seemingly, in more prosperity now, than I re- 
member ever to have seen him — still, evidently not of the rich 
and noble ; while his bearing and carriage would seem to be- 
speak him at least a monarch !" 

" I think I now perceive him thou meanest, father ; a man 
of very grave and reverend appearance, though of simple de- 
portment. I see nothing extravagant, or ill-placed, either in 
his attire, or in his bearing." 

" I mean not that ; but there is a loftiness in his dignified 
countenance that one is not accustomed to meet in those who 
are unused to power." 

" To me, he hath the air and dress of a superior navigator, or 
pilot — of a man accustomed to the seas — ay, he hath sundry 
symbols about him that bespeak such a pursuit." 

"Thou art right, Don Luis, for such is his calling. He 
cometh of Genoa, and his name is Christoval Colon ; or, as 
they term it in Italy, Christoforo Colombo." 

" I remember to have heard of an admiral of that name, who 
did good service in the wars of the south, and who formerly 
led a fleet into the far east." 

"This is not he, but one of humbler habits," though possi- 
bly of the same blood, seeing that both are derived from the 
identical place. This is no admiral, though he would fain be- 
come one — ay, even a king 1" 

"The man is, "then, either of a w T eak mind, or of a light am- 
bition." 



G2 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" He is neither. In mind, lie hath outdone many of our 
most learned churchmen ; and it is due to his piety to say that 
a more devout Christian doth not exist in Spain. It is plain, 
son, that thou hast been much abroad, and little at court, or 
thou wouldst have known the history of this extraordinary be- 
ing, at the mention of his name, which has been the source of 
merriment for the frivolous and gay this many a year, and 
which has thrown the thoughtful and prudent into more doubts 
than many a fierce and baneful heresy." 

" Thou stirrest my curiosity, father, by such language. Who 
and what is the man f" 

" An enigma, that neither prayers to the Virgin, the learning 
of the cloisters, nor a zealous wish to reach the truth, hath ena- 
bled me to read. Come hither, Luis, to this bit of rock, where 
we can be seated, and I will relate to thee the opinions that 
render this being so extraordinary. Thou must know, son, it 
is now seven years since this man first appeared among us. He 
sought employment as a discoverer, pretending that, by steer- 
ing out into the ocean, on a western course, for a great and 
unheard-of distance, he could reach the farther Indies, with 
the rich island of Cipango, and the kingdom of Cathay, of 
which one Marco Polo hath left us some most extraordinary 
legends !" 

' ' By St. James of blessed memory ! the man must be short 
of his wits !" interrupted Don Luis, laughing, " In what way 
could this thing be, unless the earth were round — the Indies 
lying east, and not west of us?" 

" That hath been often objected to his notions ; but the man 
hath ready answers to much weightier arguments." 

" What weightier than this can be found? Our own eyes 
tell us that the earth is flat." 

" Therein he differeth from most men — and to own the 
truth, son Luis, not without some show of reason. He is a 
navigator, as thou wilt understand, and he replies that, on the 
ocean, when a ship is seen from afar, her upper sails are first 
perceived, and that as she draweth nearer, her lower sails, and 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 63 

finally her hull cometh into view. But thou hast been over sea, 
and may have observed something of this?' ' 

" Truly have I, father. While mounting the English sea, we 
met a gallant cruiser of the king's, and, as thou said'st, we first 
perceived her upper sail, a white speck upon the water ; then 
followed sail after sail, until we came nigh and saw her gigantic 
hull, with a very goodly show of bombards and cannon — some 
twenty at least, in all." 

" Then thou agreest with this Colon, and thinkest the earth 
round ?'? 

"By St. George of England! not T. I have seen too much 
of the world, to traduce its fair surface in so heedless a man- 
ner. England, France, Burgundy, Germany, and all those dis- 
tant countries of the north, are just as lervel and flat as our own 
Castile." 

" Why, then, didst thou see the upper sails of the English- 
man first V 1 

" Why, father — why — because they were first visible. Yes, 
because they came first into view." 

" Do the English put the largest of their sails uppermost on 
the masts?" 

"They would be fools if they did. Though no great naviga- 
tors — our neighbors the Portuguese, and the people of Genoa, 
exceeding all others in that craft — though no great navigators, 
the English are not so surpassingly stupid. Thou wilt remem- 
ber the force of the winds, and understand that the larger the 
sail the lower should be its position." 

"Then how happened it that thou sawest the smaller object 
before the larger?" 

" Truly, excellent Fray Pedro, thou hast not conversed with 
this Christoforo for nothing ! A question is not a reason." 

"Socrates was fond of questions, son; but he expected an- 
swers." 

" Peste ! as they say at the court of King Louis. I am not 
Socrates, my good father, but thy old pupil and kinsman, Luis 
de Bobadilla, the truant nephew of the queen's favorite, the 



64 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Marchioness of Moya, and as well-born a cavalier as there is in 
Spain — though somewhat given to roving, if my enemies are to 
be believed." 

" Neither thy pedigree, thy character, nor thy vagaries, need 
be given to me, Don Luis de Bobadilla, since I have -known 
thee and thy career from childhood. Thou hast one merit that 
none will deny thee, and that is, a respect for truth ; and never 
hast thou more completely vindicated thy character, in this 
particular, than when thou saidst thou were not Socrates." 

The worthy friar's good-natured smile, as he made this sally, 
took off some of its edge ; and the young man laughed, as if 
too conscious of his own youthful follies to resent what he 
heard. 

"But, dear Fray Pedro, lay aside thy government, for once, 
and stoop to a rational discourse with me on this extraordinary 
subject. Thou, surely, wilt not pretend that the earth is 
round?" 

"I do not go as far as some, on this point, Luis, for I see 
difficulties with Holy "Writ, by the admission. Still, this 
matter of the sails much puzzleth me, and I have often felt a 
desire to go from one port to another, by sea, in order to wit- 
ness it. Were it not for the exceeding nausea that I ever feel 
in a boat, I might attempt the experiment." 

" That would be a worthy consummation of all thy wisdom !" 
exclaimed the young man, laughing. "Fray Pedro de Carrascal 
turned rover, like his old pupil, and that, too, astride a vagary ! 
But set thy heart at rest, my honored kinsman and excellent 
instructor, for I can save thee the trouble. In all my journey- 
Lngs, by sea and by land — and thou knowest that, for my years, 
they have been many — I have ever found the earth flat, and 
the ocean the flattest portion of it, always excepting a few tur- 
bulent and uneasy waves." 

"No doubt it so seemeth to the eye ; but this Colon, who hath 
voyaged far more than thou, thinketh otherwise. He contend- 
eth that the earth is a sphere, and that, by sailing west, he can 
reach points that have been already attained by journeying east," 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. C5 

" By San Lorenzo ! but the idea is a bold one ! Doth the 
man really propose to venture out into the broad Atlantic, and 
even to cross it to some distant and unknown land?" 

" That is his very idea ; and for seven weary years hath he 
solicited the court to furnish him with the means. Nay, as I 
hear, he hath passed much more time — other seven years, per- 
haps — in urging his suit in different lands." 

" If the earth be round," continued Don Luis, with a musing 
air, " what preventeth all the water from flowing to the lower 
parts of it ? How is it, that we have any seas at all ? and if, as 
thou hast hinted, he deemeth the Indies on the other side, how 
Is it that their people stand erect ? — it cannot be done without 
placing the feet uppermost." 

"That difficulty hath been presented to Colon, but he 
treateth it lightly. Indeed, most of our churchmen are getting 
to believe that there is no up, or down, except as it relateth to 
the surface of the earth ; so that no great obstacle existeth in 
that point." 

"Thou would' st not have me understand, father, that a man 
can walk on his head — and that, too, with the noble member 
in the air ? By San Francisco ! thy men of Cathay must have 
talons like a cat, or they would be falling, quickly I" 

" Whither, Luis ?" 

" Whither, Fray Pedro ? — to Tophet, or the bottomless pit. 
It can never be that men walk on their heads, heels uppermost, 
with no better foundation than the atmosphere. The caravels, 
too, must sail on their masts — and that would be rare naviga- 
tion ! What would prevent the sea from tumbling out of its 
bed, and falling on the Devil's fires and extinguishing them V? 

" Son Luis," interrupted the monk, gravely, " thy lightness 
of speech is carried too far. But, if thou so much deridest 
the opinion of this Colon, what are thine own notions of the 
formation of this earth, that God hath so honored with his spirit 
and his presence V 

" That it is as flat as the buckler of the Moor I slew in the 
last sortie, which is as flat as steel can hammer iron." » 



G6 MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 

" Dost thou think it hath limits?" 

u That do I — and please heaven, and Dona Mercedes de 
Valverde, I will see them before I die !" 

" Then thou fanciest there is an edge, or precipice, at the 
four sides of the world, which men may reach, and where 
they can stand and look off, as from an exceeding high plat- 
form?" 

" The picture doth not lose, father, for the touch of thy 
pencil ! I have never bethought me of this before ; and yet 
some such spot there must be, one would think. By San Fer-. 
nando, himself! that would be a place to try the metal of even 
Don Alonso de Ojeda, who might stand on the margin of the 
earth, put his foot on a cloud, and cast an orange to the 
moon I" 

" Thou hast bethought thee little of any thing serious, I 
fear, Luis ; but to me," this opinion and this project of Colon 
are not without merit. I see but two serious objections to them, 
one of which is, the difficulty connected with Holy Writ ; and 
the other, the vast and incomprehensible, nay, useless, extent 
of the ocejan that must necessarily separate us from Cathay ; 
else should we long since have heard from that quarter of the 
world." 

" Do the learned favor the man's notions J" 

" The matter hath been seriously argued before a council held 
at Salamanca, where men were much divided upon it. One 
serious obstacle is the apprehension that should the world prove 
to be round, and could a ship even succeed in getting to Cathay 
by the west, there would be great difficulty in her ever return- 
ing, since there must be, in some manner, an ascent and a 
descent. I must say that most men deride this Colon ; and I 
fear he will never reach his island of Cipango, as he doth not 
seem in the way even to set forth on the journey. I marvel 
that he should now be here, it having been said he had taken 
his final departure for Portugal." 

" Dost thou say, father, that the man hath long been in 
Spain ?" demanded Don Luis, gravely, with his eye riveted on 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. G 7 

the dignified form of Columbus, who stood calmly regarding the 
gorgeous spectacle of the triumph, at no great distance from the 
rock where the two had taken their seats. 

" Seven weary years hath he been soliciting the rich and the 
great to furnish him with the means of undertaking his favorite 
voyage. ' ' 

" Hath he the gold to prefer so long a suit !" 

"By his appearance, I should think him poor— nay, I know 
that he hath toiled for bread, at the occupation of a map-maker. 
One hour he hath passed in arguing with philosophers and in 
soliciting princes, while the next hath been occupied in laboring 
for the food that he hath taken for sustenance." 

u Thy description, father, hath whetted curiosity to so keen 
an edge, that I would fain speak with this Colon. I see he re- 
maineth yonder, in the crowd, and will go and tell him that I, 
too, am somewhat of a navigator, and will extract from him a 
few of his peculiar ideas." 

" And in what manner wilt thou open the acquaintance, son f" 

" By telling him that I am Don Luis de Bobadilla, the nephew 
of the Dona Beatriz of Moya, and a noble of one of the best 
houses of Castile." 

" And this, thou thinkest, will suffice for thy purpose, Luis !" 
returned the friar, smiling. " No — no — my son; this may do 
with most map-sellers, but it will not effect thy wishes with 
yonder Christoval Colon. That man is so filled w r ith the vast- 
ness of his purposes ; is so much raised up with the magnitude 
of the results that his mind intently contemplateth, day and 
night ; seemeth so conscious of his own powers, that even kings 
and princes can, in no manner, lessen his dignity. That which 
thou proposest, Don Fernando, our honored master, might 
scarcely attempt, and hope to escape without some rebuke of 
manner, if not of tongue.'.' 

"By all the blessed saints! Fray Pedro, thou givest an 
extraordinary account of this man, and only increasest the 
desire to know him. Wilt thou charge thyself with the intro- 
duction?" 



68 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Most willingly, for I wish, to inquire what hath brought 
him back to court, whence, I had understood, he lately went, 
with the intent to go elsewhere with his projects. Leave the 
mode in my hands, son Luis, and we will see what can be 
acomplished." 

The friar and his mercurial young companion now arose from 
their seats on the rock, and threaded the throng, taking the 
direction necessary to approach the man who had been the 
subject of their discourse, and still remained that of their 
thoughts. When near enough to speak, Fray Pedro stopped, 
and stood patiently waiting for a moment when he might catch 
the navigator's eye. This did not occur for several minutes, 
the looks of Colon being riveted on the towers of the Alham- 
bra, where, at each instant, the signal of possession was expect- 
ed to appear ; and Luis de Bobadilla, who, truant, and errant, 
and volatile, and difficult to curb, as he had proved himself to 
be, never forgot his illustrious birth and the conventional dis- 
tinctions attached to personal rank, began to manifest his impa- 
tience at being kept so long dancing attendance on a mere map- 
seller and a pilot. He in vain urged his companion to advance, 
however ; but one of his own hurried movements at length 
drew aside the look of Columbus, when the eyes of the latter 
and of the friar met, and being old acquaintances, they saluted 
in the courteous manner of the age. 

" I felicitate you, Seiior Colon, on the glorious termination 
of this siege, and rejoice that you are here to witness it, as 
I had heard affairs of magnitude had called you to another 
country." 

" The hand of God, father, is to be traced in all things. 
You perceive in this success the victory of the cross ; but to 
me it conveyeth a lesson of perseverance, and sayeth as plainly 
as events can speak, that what God hath decreed, must come to 
pass." 

" I like your application, Seiior ; as, indeed, I do most of 
your thoughts on our holy religion. Perseverance is truly 
necessary to salvation ; and I doubt not that a fitting symbol 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 69 

to the same may be found in the manner in which our pious 
sovereigns have conducted this war, as well as in its glorious 
termination." 

" True, father ; and also doth it furnish a symbol to the for- 
tunes of all enterprises that have the glory of God and the 
welfare of the church in view," answered Colon, or Columbus, 
as the name has been Latinized ; his eye kindling with that 
latent fire which seems so deeply seated in the visionary and 
the enthusiast. " It may seem out of reason to you, to make 
such applications of these great events; but the triumph of 
their Highnesses this day, marvellously encourageth me to per- 
severe, and not to faint, in my own weary pilgrimage, both 
leading to triumphs of the cross." 

" Since you are pleased to speak of your own schemes, 
Senor Colon," returned the friar, ingenuously, " I am not sorry 
that the matter hath come up between us ; for here is a youth- 
ful kinsman of mine, who hath been somewhat of a rover, 
himself, in the indulgence of a youthful fancy, that neither 
friends nor yet love could restrain ; and having heard of^your 
noble projects, he is burning with a desire to learn more of 
them from your own mouth, should it suit your condescension 
so to indulge him." 

"I am always happy to yield to the praiseworthy wishes of 
the young and adventurous, and shall cheerfully communicate 
to your young friend all he may desire to know," answered 
Columbus, with a simplicity and dignity that at once put to 
flight all the notions of superiority and affability with which 
Don Luis had intended to carry on the conversation, and which 
had the immediate effect to satisfy the young man that he wa& 
to be the obliged and honored party, in the intercourse that was 
to follow. "But, Senor, you have forgotten to give me the 
name of the cavalier." 

" It is Don Luis de Bobadilla, a youth whose best claims to 
your notice, perhaps, are, a most adventurous and roving spirit, 
and the fact that he may call your honored friend, the Marchion- 
ess of Moya, his aunt." 



ii) MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Either would be sufficient, father. I love the spirit of ad 
venture in the youthful ; for it is implanted, no doubt, by God, 
in order that they may serve his all-wise and beneficent de- 
signs ; and it is of such as these that my own chief worldly stay 
and support must be found. Then, next to Father Juan Pe- 
rez de Marchena and Senor Alonzo de Quintanilla, do I esteem 
Dona Beatriz, among my fastest friends ; her kinsman, there- 
fore, will be certain of my esteem and respect." 

All this sounded extraordinary to Don Luis ; for, though 
the dress and appearance of this unknown stranger, who even 
spoke the Castilian with a foreign accent, were respectable, he 
had been told he was merely a pilot, or navigator, who earned 
his bread by toil ; and it was not usual for the noblest of Cas- 
tile to be thus regarded, as it might be, with a condescending 
favor, by any inferior to those who could claim the blood and 
lineage of princes. At first he was disposed to resent the words 
of the stranger ; then to laugh in his face ; but, observing that 
the friar treated him with great deference, and secretly awed by 
the air of the reputed projector, he was not only successful in 
maintaining a suitable deportment, but he made a proper and 
courteous reply, such as became his name and breeding. The 
three then retired together, a little aloof from the thickest of the 
throng, and found seats, also, on one of the rocks, of which so 
many were scattered about the place. 

"Don Luis hath visited foreign lands, you say, father," said 
Columbus, who did not fail to lead the discourse, like one en- 
titled to it by rank, or personal claims, "and hath a craving for 
the wonders and dangers of the ocean S" 

" Such hath been either his merit or his fault, Senor; had he 
listened to the wishes of Dona Beatriz, or to my advice, he 
w r ould not have thrown aside his knightly career for one so little 
in unison with his training and birth.' ' 

" Nay, father, you treat the youth with unmerited severity ; 
he who passeth a life on the ocean, cannot be said to pass it in 
either an ignoble or a useless manner. God separated differ- 
ent countries by vast bodies of water, not with any intent to 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 71 

render their people strangers to each other, but, doubtless, 
that they might meet amid the wonders with which he 
hath adorned the ocean, and glorify his name and power so 
much the more. We all have our moments of thoughtlessness 
in youth — a period when we yield to our impulses rather than 
to our reason ; and as I confess to mine, I am little disposed to 
bear too hard on Senor Don Luis, that he hath had his." 

" You have probably battled with the Infidel, by sea, Senor 
Colon," observed the young man, not a little embarrassed as to 
the manner in which he should introduce the subject he most 
desired. 

"Ay, and by land, too, son" — the familiarity startled the 
young noble, though he could not take offence at it — " and by 
land, too. The time hath been, when I had a pleasure in re- 
lating my perils and escapes, which have been numerous, both 
from war and tempests ; but, since the power of God hath 
awakened my spirit to mightier things, that his will may be 
done, and his word spread throughout the whole earth, my 
memory ceaseth to dwell on them." Fray Pedro crossed him- 
self, and Don Luis smiled and shrugged his shoulders, as one is 
apt to do when he listens to any thing extravagant ; but the 
navigator proceeded in the earnest, grave manner that appeared 
to belong to his character. "It is now very many years since 
I was engaged in that remarkable combat between the forces of 
my kinsman and namesake, the younger Colombo, as he was 
called,, to distinguish him from his uncle, the ancient admiral 
of the same name, which took place not far north from Cape 
St. Vincent. On that bloody day, we contended with the foe — 
Venetians, richly laden — from morn till even, and yet the Lord 
carried me through the hot contest unharmed. On another oc- 
casion, the galley in which I fought was consumed by fire, and 
I had to find my way to land — no trifling distance — by the aid 
of an oar. To me, it seemeth that the hand of God was in 
this, and that he would not have taken so signal and tender, a 
care of one of his insignificant creatures, unless to use him 
largely for his own honor and glory." 



i'l MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Although the eye of the navigator grew brighter as he utter- 
ed this, and his cheek flushed with a species of holy enthusiasm, 
it was impossible to confound one so grave, so dignified, so 
measured even in his exaggerations (if such they were), with 
the idle and light-minded, who mistake momentary impulses 
for indelible impressions, and passing vanities for the convictions 
that temper character. Fray Pedro, instead of smiling, or in 
any manner betraying that he regarded the other's opinions 
lightly, devoutly crossed himself again, and showed by the sym- 
pathy expressed in his countenance, how much he entered into 
the profound religious faith of the speaker. 

" The ways of God are often mysterious to his creatures,' T 
said the friar; " but we are taught that they all lead to the ex- 
altation of his name and to the glory of his attributes.' 7 

" It is so that I consider it, father ; and with such views have 
I always regarded my own humble efforts to honor him. We 
are but instruments, and useless instruments, too, when we look 
at how little proceedeth from our own spirits and power.' 1 

" There cometh the blessed symbol that is our salvation and 
guide !" exclaimed the friar, holding out both arms eagerly, as 
if to embrace some distant object in the heavens, immediately 
falling to his knees, and bowing his shaven and naked head, in 
deep humility, to the earth. 

Columbus turned his eyes in the direction indicated by his 
companion's gestures, and he beheld the large silver cross that 
the sovereigns had carried with them throughout the late war, 
as a pledge of its objects, glittering on the principal tower of 
the Alhambra. At the next instant, the banners of Castile and 
of St. James were unfolded from other elevated places. Then 
came the song of triumph, mingled with the chants of the 
church. Te Deum was sung, and the choirs of the royal chapel 
chanted in the open fields the praises of the Lord of Hosts. A 
scene of magnificent religious pomp, mingled with martial array, 
followed, that belongs rather to general history than to the par- 
ticular and private incidents of our tale. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 73 



CHAPTER V. 

" Who hath not proved how feebly words essay 
To fix one spark of beauty's heavenly ray ? 
Who doth not feel, until Ms failing sight 
Faints into dimness with its own delight, 
His changing cheek, his sinking heart confess 
The might — the majesty of loveliness !" 

Byron. 

That night the court of Castile and Aragon slept in the pal* 
ace of the Alhambra. As soon as the religious ceremony alluded 
to in the last chapter had terminated, the crowd rushed into the 
place, and the princes followed, with a dignity and state better 
suited to their high character. The young Christian nobles, 
accompanied by their wives and sisters — for the presence of * 
Isabella, and the delay that attended the surrender, had drawn 
together a vast many of the gentler sex, in addition to those 
whose duty it was to accompany their royal mistress — hurried 
eagerly through the celebrated courts and fretted apartments of 
this remarkable residence ; nor was curiosity appeased even when 
night came to place a temporary stay to its indulgence. The 
Court of the Lions in particular, a place still renowned through- 
out Christendom for its remains of oriental beauty, had been 
left by Boabdil in the best condition ; and, although it was mid- 
winter, by the aid of human art it was even then gay with 
flowers ; while the adjacent halls, those of the Two Sisters and 
of Abencerrages, were brilliant with light, and alive with warriors 
and courtiers, dignified priests and luxuriant beauty. 

Although no Spanish eye could be otherwise than familiar 
with the light peculiar graces of Moorish architecture, these of 
the Alhambra so much surpassed those of any other palace 
which had been erected by the Mussulman dynasties of that 



^4 MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 

part of the world, that their glories struck the beholders with 
the freshness of novelty, as well as with the magnificence of 
royalty. The rich conceits in stucco, an art of eastern origin 
then little understood in Christendom ; the graceful and fanciful 
arabesques — which, improved on by the fancies of some of the 
greatest geniuses the world ever saw, have descended to our 
own times, and got to be so familiar in Europe, though little 
known on this side of the Atlantic — decorated the walls, while 
brilliant fountains cast their waters into the air, and fell in glit- 
tering spray, resembling diamonds. 

Among the throng that moved through this scene of almost 
magical beauty, was Beatrix de Bobadilla, who had long been 
the wife of Don Andres de Cabrera, and was now generally 
known as the Marchioness of Moya ; the constant, near, and 
confidential friend of the queen, a character she retained until 
her royal mistress was numbered with the dead. On her arm 
leaned lightly a youthful female, of an appearance so remark- 
able, that few strangers would have passed her without turning 
to take a second look at features and a countenance that were 
seldom seen and forgotten. This was Dona Mercedes de Val- 
verde, one of the noblest and richest heiresses of Castile ; the 
relative, ward, and adopted daughter of the queen's friend — 
favorite being hardly the term one would apply to the relation 
in which Dona Beatriz stood toward Isabella. It was not the 
particular beauty of Dona Mercedes, however, that rendered her 
appearance so remarkable and attractive ; for, though feminine, 
graceful, of exquisite form, and even of pleasing features, there 
were many in that brilliant court who would generally be 
deemed fairer. But no other maiden of Castile had a coun- 
tenance so illuminated by the soul within, or no other female 
face habitually wore so deep an impression of sentiment and 
sensibility; and the professed physiognomist would have de- 
lighted to trace the evidences of a deeply-seated, earnest, but 
unobtrusive enthusiasm, which even cast a shade of melancholy 
over a face that fortune and the heart had equally intended 
should be sunny and serene. Serene it was, notwithstanding • 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. t b 

the shadow that rested on it seeming to soften and render in- 
teresting its expression, rather than to disturb its tranquillity or 
to cloud its loveliness. 

On the other side of the noble matron walked Luis de Boba- 
dilla, keeping a little in advance of his aunt, in a way to per- 
mit his own dark, flashing looks to meet, whenever feeling and 
modesty would allow it, the fine, expressive blue eyes of Mer- 
cedes. The three conversed freely, for the royal personages 
had retired to their private apartments, and each group of pas- 
sengers was so much entranced with the novelty of its situation 
and its own conversation, as to disregard the remarks of others. 

" This is a marvel, Luis," observed Dona Beatriz, in contin- 
uation of a subject that evidently much interested them all, 
" that thou, a truant and a rover thyself, should now have heard 
for the first time of this Colon ! It is many years since he has 
been soliciting their Highnesses for their royal aid in effecting 
his purposes. The matter of his schemes was solemnly debated 
before a council at Salamanca ; and he hath not been without 
believers at the Court itself." 

" Among whom is to be classed Dona Beatriz de Cabrera," 
said Mercedes, with that melancholy smile that had the effect 
to bring out glimpses of all the deep but latent feeling that lay 
concealed beneath the surface : " I have often heard Her High- 
ness declare that Colon hath no truer friend in Castile." 

" Her Highness is seldom mistaken, child — and never in my 
heart. I do uphold the man ; for to me he seemeth one fitted 
for some great and honorable undertaking; and surely none 
greater hath ever been proposed or imagined by human mind, 
than this he urgeth. Think of our becoming acquainted with 
the nations of the other side of the earth, and of finding easy 
and direct means of communicating with them, and of impart- 
ing to them the consolations of Holy Church !" 

" Ay, Senora my aunt," cried Luis, laughing, "and of walk- 
ing in their delightful company with all our heels in the air, 
and our heads downward ! I hope this Colon hath not neg- 
lected to practice a little in the art, for it will need some time to 



76 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

gain a sure foot, in such circumstances. He might commence 
on the sides of these mountains, by way of a horn-book, throw- 
ing the head boldly off at a right-angle ; after which, the walls 
and towers of this Alhambra would make a very pretty gram- 
mar, or stepping-stone to new progress." 

Mercedes had unconsciously but fervently pressed the arm of 
her guardian, as Dona Beatriz admitted her interest in the suc- 
cess of the great project ; but at this sally of Don Luis, she looked 
serious, and threw a glance at him, that he himself felt to be 
reproachful. To win the love of his aunt's ward was the young 
man's most ardent wish ; and a look of dissatisfaction could at 
any moment repress that exuberance of spirits which often led 
him into an appearance of levity that did injustice to the really 
sterling qualities of both his heart and mind. Under the in- 
fluence of that look, then, he was not slow to repair the wrong 
he had done himself, by adding almost as soon as he had ceased 
to speak — 

" The Dona Mercedes is of the discovering party, too, I see ; 
this Colon appeareth to have had more success with the dames 
of Castile than with her nobles" — 

" Is it extraordinary, Don Luis," interrupted the pensive- 
looking girl, "that women should have more confidence in 
merit, more generous impulses, more zeal for God, than men ?" 

"It must be even so, since you and my aunt, Dona Beatriz, 
side with the navigator. But I am not always to be understood 
in the light I express myself;" Mercedes now smiled, but this 
time it was archly — " I have never studied w T ith the minstrels, 
nor, sooth to say, deeply with the churchmen. To be honest 
with you, I have been much struck with this noble idea ; and 
if Senor Colon doth, in reality, sail in quest of Cathay and the 
Indies, I shall pray their Highnesses to let me be one of the 
party, for, now that the Moor is subdued, there remaineth little 
for a noble to do in Spain." 

"If thou should'st really go on this expedition," said Dona 
Beatriz, with grave irony, " there will, at least, be one human 
being topsy-turvy, in the event of thy reaching Cathay. But 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 77 

yonder is an attendant of the court ; I doubt if Her Highness 
doth not desire my presence." 

The Lady of Moya was right — the messenger coming to an 
nounce to her that the queen required her attendance. The 
manners of the day and country rendered it unseemly that Dona 
Mercedes should continue her promenade accompanied only by 
Don Luis, and the marchioness led the way to her own apart- 
ments, where a saloon suitable to her rank and to her favor 
with the queen, had been selected for her from among the 
numberless gorgeous rooms of the Moorish kings. Even here, 
the marchioness paused a moment, in thought, before she would 
leave her errant nephew alone with her ward. 

" Though a rover, he is no troubadour, and cannot charm thy 
ear with false rhymes. It were better, perhaps, that I sent him 
beneath thy balcony, with his guitar ; but knowing so well his 
dulness, I will confide in it, and leave him with thee, for the 
few minutes that I shall be absent. A cavalier who hath so 
strong a dislike to reversing the order of nature, will not surely 
condescend to go on his knees, even though it be to win a 
smile from the sweetest maiden in all Castile." 

Don Luis laughed ; Dona Beatriz smiled, as she kissed her 
ward, and left the room ; while Dona Mercedes blushed, and 
riveted her gaze on the floor. Luis de Bobadilla was the de- 
clared suitor and sworn knight of Mercedes de Valverde ; but, 
though so much favored by birth, fortune, affinity, and figure, 
there existed some serious impediments to his success. In all 
that was connected with the considerations that usually decide 
such things, the union was desirable ; but there existed, never- 
theless, a strong influence to overcome, in the scruples of Dona 
Beatriz, herself. High-principled, accustomed to the just- 
minded views of her royal mistress, and too proud to do an 
unworthy act, the very advantages that a marriage with her 
ward offered to her nephew, had caused the marchioness to 
hesitate. Don Luis had little of the Castilian gravity of char- 
acter — and, by many, his animal spirits were mistaken for light- 
ness of disposition and levity of thought. His mother was u 
'4 



7 8 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

woman of a very illustrious French family ; and national pride 
had induced most observers to fancy that the son inherited a 
constitutional disposition to frivolity, that was to be traced to 
the besetting weakness of a whole people. A consciousness of 
his being so viewed at home, had, indeed, driven the youth 
abroad ; and as, like all observant travellers, he was made 
doubly sensible of the defects of his own state of society on his 
return, a species of estrangement had grown up between him 
and his natural associates that had urged the young man, again 
and again, to wander into foreign lands. Nothing, indeed, but 
his early and constantly increasing passion for Mercedes had 
induced him to return ; a step that, fortunately for himself, 
he had last taken in time to assist in the reduction of Granada. 
Notwithstanding these traits, which, in a country like Castile, 
might be properly enough termed peculiarities, Don Luis de 
Bobadilla was a knight worthy of his lineage and name. His 
prowess in the field and in the tourney, indeed, was so very 
marked as to give him a high military character, in despite of 
what were deemed his failings ; and he passed rather as an in- 
considerate and unsafe young man, than as one who was either 
debased or wicked. Martial qualities, in that age in particular, 
redeemed a thousand faults ; and Don Luis had even been 
known to unhorse, in the tourney, Alonzo de Ojeda, then the 
most expert lance in Spain. Such a man could not be despised, 
though he might be distrusted. But the feeling which governed 
his aunt, referred quite as much to her own character as to his. 
Deeply conscientious, while she understood her nephew's real 
qualities much better than mere superficial observers, she had 
her doubts about the propriety of giving the rich heiress who 
was entrusted to her care, to so near a relative, when all could 
not applaud the act. She feared, too, that her own partiality 
might deceive her, and that Luis might in truth be the light 
and frivolous being he sometimes appeared to be in Castilian 
eyes, and that the happiness of her ward would prove the sacri- 
fice of the indiscretion. With these doubts, then, while she 
secretly desired, the union, she had in public looked coldly on 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 79 

her nephew's suit; and, though unable, without a harshness 
that circumstances would not warrant, to prevent all intercourse, 
she had not only taken frequent occasions to let Mercedes un- 
derstand her distrust, but she had observed the precaution not 
to leave so handsome a suitor, notwithstanding he was often 
domiciliated in her own house, much alone with her ward. 

The state of Mercedes' feelings was known only to herself. 
She was beautiful, of an honorable family, and an heiress ; and 
as human infirmities were as besetting beneath the stately mien 
of the fifteenth century as they are to-day, she had often 
heard the supposed fault 3 - of Don Luis' character sneered at, 
by those who felt distrustful of his good looks and his oppor- 
tunities. Few young females would have had the courage to 
betray any marked preference under such circumstances, until 
prepared to avow their choice, and to take sides with its sub- 
ject against the world ; and the quiet but deep enthusiasm that 
prevailed in the moral system of the fair young Castilian, was 
tempered by a prudence that prevented her from running into 
most of its lighter excesses. The forms and observances that 
usually surround young women of rank, came in aid of this 
native prudence ; and even Don Luis himself, though he had 
watched the countenance and emotions of her to whom he had 
so long urged his suit, with a lover's jealousy and a lover's 
instincts, was greatly in doubt whether he had succeeded in 
the least in touching her heart. By one of those unlooked-for 
concurrences of circumstances that so often decide the for- 
tunes of men, whether as lovers or in more worldly-minded 
pursuits, these doubts were now about to be unexpectedly and 
suddenly removed. 

The triumph of the Christian arms, the novelty of her situa- 
tion, and the excitement of the whole scene, had aroused the 
feelings of Mercedes from that coy concealment in which they 
usually lay smothered beneath the covering of maiden diffi- 
dence ; and throughout the evening her smile had been more 
open, her eye brighter, and her cheeks more deeply flushed, 
than was usual even with one whose smiles were always sweet, 



80 M.«!.iCEDES OF CASTILE. 

whose eyes were never dull, and whose cheeks answered so sen- 
sitively to the varying impulses within. 

As his aunt quitted the room, leaving him alone with Mer- 
cedes for the first time since his return from his last ramble, 
Don Luis eagerly threw himself on a stool that stood near the 
feet of his adored, who placed herself on a sumptuous couch, 
that, twenty -four hours before, had held the person of a princess 
of Abdallah's family. 

u Much as I honor and reverence Her Highness," the young 
man hurriedly commenced, a my respect and veneration are 
now increased ten-fold ! Would that she might send for my 
beloved aunt thrice where she now wants her services only 
once ! and may her presence become so necessary to her sove- 
reign that the affairs of Castile cannot go on without her coun- 
sel, if so blessed an opportunity as this, to tell you all I feel, 
Doiia Mercedes, is to follow her obedience !" 

" It is not they who are most fluent of speech, or the most 
vehement, who always feel the deepest, Don Luis de Boba- 
clilla." 

" Nor do they feel the least. Mercedes, thou canst not 
doubt my love ! It hath grown with my growth — increased 
with each increase of my ideas — until it hath got to be so 
interwoven with my mind itself, that I can scarce use a faculty 
that thy dear image doth not mingle with it. In all that is 
beautiful, I behold thee ; if I listen to the song of a bird, it is 
thy carol to the lute ; or if I feel the gentle south wind from the 
fragrant isles fanning my cheek, I would fain think it thy sigh." 

" You have dwelt so much among the light conceits of the 
French court, Don Luis, you appear to have forgotten that the 
heart of a Castilian girl is too true, and too sincere, to meet 
such rhapsodies with favor." 

Had Don Luis been older, or more experienced in the sex, 
he would have been flattered by this rebuke — for he would have 
detected in the speaker's manner, both feeling of a gentler na- 
ture than her words expressed, and a tender regret. 

" If thou ascribest to me rhapsodies, thou dost me great in- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 81 

justice. I may not do credit to my own thoughts and feelings; 
but never hath my tongue uttered aught to thee, Mercedes, 
that the heart hath not honestly urged. Have I not loved thee 
since thou and I were children ? Did I ever fail to show my 
preference for thee when we were boy and girl, in all the sports 
and light-hearted enjoyments of that guileless period ?" 

" Guileless, truly," answered Mercedes, her look brightening 
as it might be with agreeable fancies and a flood of pleasant 
recollections — doing more, in a single instant, to break down 
the barriers of her reserve, than years of schooling had effected 
toward building them up. " Thou wert then, at least, sin- 
cere, Luis, and I placed full faith in thy friendship, and in thy 
desire to please." 

" Bless thee, bless thee, for these precious words, Mercedes ! 
for the first time in two years, hast thou spoken to me as thou 
wert wont to do, and called me Luis without that courtly, 
accursed, Don." 

" A noble Castilian should never regard his honors lightly, 
and he oweth it to his rank to see that others respect them, 
too ;" answered our heroine, looking down, as if she already 
half repented of the familiarity. " You are quick to remind 
me of my forgetfulness, Don Luis de Bobadilla." 

" This unlucky tongue of mine can never follow the path 
that its owner wisheth ! Hast thou not seen in all my looks — 
all my acts — all my motives — a desire to please thee, and thee 
alone, lovely Mercedes ? When Her Highness gave her royal 
approbation of my success, in the last tourney, did I not seek 
thine eye, in order to ask if thou notedst it ? Hast thou ever 
expressed a wish, that I have not proved an eager desire to see 
it accomplished ?" 

" Nay, now, Luis, thou emboldenest me to remind thee that 
I expressed a wish that thou wouldst not go on thy last voyage 
to the north, and yet thou didst depart ! I felt that it would 
displease Dona Beatriz ; thy truant disposition having made 
her uneasy lest thou shouldst get altogether into the habits of 
a rover, and into disfavor with the queen." 



82 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" It was for this that thou madst the request, and it 
wounded my pride to think that Mercedes de Valverde should 
so little understand my character, as to believe it possible a 
noble of my name and lineage could so far forget his duties as 
to sink into the mere associate of pilots and adventurers." 

" Thou didst not know that I believed this of thee." 

" Hadst thou asked of me, Mercedes, to remain for thy sake 
—nay, hadst thou imposed the heaviest services on me, as thy 
knight, or as one who enjoyed the smallest degree of thy favor 
— I would have parted with life sooner than I would have 
parted from Castile. But not even a look of kindness could I 
obtain, in reward for all the pain I had felt on thy account" — 

"Pain, Luis!" 

"Is it not pain to love to the degree that one might kiss the 
earth that received the foot-print of its object — and yet to meet 
with no encouragement from fair words, no friendly glance of 
the eye, nor any sign or symbol to betoken that the being one 
hath enshrined in his heart's core, ever thinketk of her suitor 
except as a reckless rover and a hair-brained adventurer ?" 

"Luis de Bobadilla, no one that really knoweth thy char- 
acter, can ever truly think thus of thee." 

" A million of thanks for these few words, beloved girl, and 
ten millions for the gentle smile that hath accompanied them ! 
Thou mightst mould me to all thy wishes" — 

" My wishes, Don Luis ?" 

" To all thy severe opinions of sobriety and dignity of con- 
duct, would st thou but feel sufficient interest in me to let me 
know that my acts can give thee either pain or pleasure." 

"Can it be otherwise? Could' st thou, Luis, see with in- 
difference the proceedings of one thou hast known from child - 
hood, and esteemed as a friend ?" 

" Esteem ! Blessed Mercedes ! dost thou own even that little 
in my favor?" 

" It is not little, Luis, to esteem — but much. They who prize 
virtue never esteem the unworthy ; and it is not possible to 
know thy excellent heart and manly nature, without esteeming 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 83 

thee. Surely I have never concealed my esteem from thee or 
from any one else." 

" Hast thou concealed aught ? Ah ! Mercedes, complete this 
heavenly condescension, and admit that one — as lightly as thou 
wilt — but that one soft sentiment hath, at times, mingled with 
this esteem.'' 

Mercedes blushed brightly, but she would not make the 
often-solicited acknowledgment. It was some little time be- 
fore she answered at all. When she did speak, it was hesitat- 
ingly, and with frequent pauses, as if she distrusted the pro- 
priety or the discretion of that which she was about to utter. 

" Thou hast travelled much and far, Luis," she said ; " and hast 
lost some favor on account of thy roving propensities ; why not 
regain the confidence of thy aunt by the very means through 
which it has been lost ?" 

" I do not comprehend thee. This is singular counsel to 
come from one like thee, who art prudence itself!" 

" The prudent and discreet think well of their acts and words, 
and are the more to be confided in. Thou seemest to have 
been struck with these bold opinions of the Senor Colon ; and 
while thou hast derided them, I can see that they have great 
weight on thy mind." 

"I shall, henceforth, regard thee with tenfold respect, Mer- 
cedes ; for thou hast penetrated deeper than my foolish affecta- 
tion of contempt, and all my light language, and discovered the 
real feeling that lieth underneath. Ever since I have heard of this 
vast project, it hath, indeed, haunted my imagination ; and the 
image of the Genoese hath constantly stood beside thine, dear- 
est girl, before my eyes, if not in my heart. I doubt if there be 
not some truth in his opinions ; so noble an idea cannot be 
wholly false !" 

The fine, full eye of Mercedes was fastened intently on the 
countenance of Don Luis ; and its brilliancy increased as some 
of that latent enthusiasm which dwelt within, kindled and be- 
gan to glow at this outlet of the feelings of the soul. 

" There ts" she answered, solemnly — " there must be truth 



84 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

in it ! The Genoese hatli been inspired of Heaven, with 
his sublime thoughts, and he will live, sooner or later, to 
prove their truth. Imagine this earth fairly encircled by a ship ; 
the farthest east, the land of the heathen, brought in close com- 
munion with ourselves, and the cross casting its shadows under 
the burning sun of Cathay ! These are glorious, heavenly an- 
ticipations, Luis, and would it not be an imperishable renown, 
to share in the honor of -having aided in bringing about so great 
a discovery ?" 

" By Heaven ! I will see the Genoese as soon as the mor- 
row's sun shall appear, and offer to make one in his enter- 
prise. He shall not need for gold, if that be his only want." 

" Thou speakest like a generous, noble-minded, fearless young 
Castilian, as thou art !" said Mercedes, with an enthusiasm that 
set at naught the usual guards of her discretion and her habits, 
" and as becometh Luis de Bobadilla. But gold is not plenty 
with any of us at this moment, and it will surpass the power of 
an ordinary subject to furnish that which will be necessary. 
Nor is it meet than any but sovereigns should send forth such 
an expedition, as there may be vast territories to govern and 
dispose of, should Colon succeed. My powerful kinsman — the 
Duke of Medina Celi — hath had this matter in close deliberation, 
and he viewed it favorably, as is shown by his letters to Her 
Highness ; but even he conceived it a matter too weighty to be 
attempted by anght but a crowned head, and he hath used 
much influence with our mistress, to gain her over to the opin- 
ion of the Genoese's sagacity. It is idle to think, therefore, of 
aiding effectually in this noble enterprise, unless it be through 
their Highnesses." 

" Thou knowest, Mercedes, that I can do naught for Colon, 
with the court. The king is the enemy of all who are not as 
wary, cold, and as much given to artifice as himself" — 

" Luis ! thou art in his palace — beneath his roof, enjoying his 
hospitality and protection, at this very moment !" 

"Not I," answered the young man, with warmth — "this is 
the abode of my royal mistress, Dona Isabella ; Granada being 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 85 

a conquest of Castile, and not of Aragon. Touching the queen, 
Mercedes, thou shalt never hear disrespectful word from me, 
for, like thyself, she is all that is virtuous, gentle, and kind in 
woman ; but the king hath many of the faults of us corrupt 
and mercenary men. Thou canst not tell me of a young, gen- 
erous, warm-blooded cavalier, even among his own Aragonese, 
who truly and confidingly loveth Don Fernando ; whilst all of 
Castile adore the Dona Isabella." 

"This may be true in part; Luis, but it is altogether impru- 
dent. Don Fernando is a king, and I fear me, from the little I 
have seen while dwelling in a court, that they who manage the 
affairs of mortals must make large concessions to their failings, 
or human depravity will thwart the wisest measures that can be 
devised. Moreover, can one truly love the wife and not esteem 
the husband ? To me it seemeth that the tie is so near and 
dear as to leave the virtues and the charact^s of a common 
identity." 

" Surely, thou dost not mean to compare the modest piety, 
the holy truth, the sincere virtue, of our royal mistress, with 
the cautious, wily policy of our scheming master !" 

" I desire not to make comparisons between them, Luis. We 
are bound to honor and obey both ; and if Dona Isabella hath 
more of the confiding truth and pure-heartedness of her sex, 
than His Highness, is it not ever so as between man and 
woman V 

" If I could really think that thou likenest me, in any way, 
with that managing and false-faced King of Aragon, much as I 
love thee, Mercedes, I would withdraw, forever, in pure shame." 

" No one will liken thee, Luis, to the false-tongued or the 
double-faced ; for it is thy failing to speak truth when it might 
be better to say nothing, as witness the present discourse, and 
to look at those who displease thee, as if ever ready to point 
thy lance and spur thy charger in their very teeth." 

"My looks have been most unfortunate, fair Mercedes, if 
they have left such memories in thee !" answered the youth, re 
proachfully. 



86 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

' 1 1 speak not in any manner touching myself, for to me, Luis, 
thou hast ever been gentle and kind," interrupted the young 
Castilian girl, with a haste and earnestness that hurried the blood 
to her cheeks a moment afterward ; " but solely that thou 
mayst be more guarded in thy remarks on the king." 

" Thou beganst by saying that I was a rover" — 

" Nay, I have used no such term of reproach, Don Luis ; thy 
aunt may have said this, but it could have been with no intent 
to wound. I said that thou hadst travelled far and much" 

" Well — well — I merit the title, and shall not complain of 
my honors. Thou saidst that I had travelled far and much, and 
thou spokest approvingly of the project of this Genoese. Am 
I to understand, Mercedes, it is thy wisji that I should make one 
of the adventurers ?" 

" Such was my meaning, Luis, for I have thought it an em- 
prise fitting thy daring mind and willing sword ; and the glory 
of success would atone for a thousand trifling errors, committed 
under the heat and inconsideration of youth." 

Don Luis regarded the flushed cheek and brightened eyes of 
the beautiful enthusiast nearly a minute, in silent but intense ob- 
servation ; for the tooth of doubt and jealousy had fastened on 
him, and, with the self-distrust of true affection, he questioned 
how far he was worthy to interest so fair a being, and had mis- 
givings concerning the motive that induced her to wish him to 
depart, 

" I wish I could read thy heart, Dona Mercedes," he at 
ength resumed; " for, while the witching modesty and coy 
reserve of thy sex, serve but to bind us so much the closer in 
thy chains, they puzzle the understanding of men more accus- 
tomed to rude encounters in the field than to the mazes of their 
ingenuity. Dost thou desire me to embark in an adventure 
that most men, the wise and prudent Don Fernando at their 
head — he whom thou so much esteemest, too — look upon as 
the project of a visionary, and as leading to certain destruction? 
Did I think this, I would depart to-morrow, if it were only that 
my hated presence should never more disturb thy happiness." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 87 

" Don Luis, you have no justification for this cruel suspi- 
cion," said Mercedes, endeavoring to punish her lover's distrust 
by an affectation of resentment, though the tears struggled 
through her pride, and fell from her reproachful eyes. " You 
know that no one, here or elsewhere, hateth you ; you know 
that you are a general favorite, though Castilian prudence and 
Castilian reserve may not always view your wandering life with 
the same applause as they give to the more attentive courtier 
and rigidly observant knight." 

" Pardon me, dearest, most beloved Mercedes; thy coldness 
and aversion sometime madden me." 

" Coldness! aversion! Luis de Bobadilla ! When hath 
Mercedes de Valverde ever shown either, to thee?'''' 

" I fear that Doiia Mercedes de Valverde is, even now, put- 
ting me to some such proof." 

"Then thou little knowest her motives, and ill appreciatest 
her heart. No, Luis, I am not averse, and would not appear 
cold, to thee. If thy wayward feelings get so much the mastery, 
and pain thee thus, I will strive to be more plain. Yes ! rather 
than thou shouldst carry away with thee the false notion, and 
perhaps plunge, again, into some unthinking sea-adventure, I 
will subdue my maiden pride, and forget the reserve and cau- 
tion that best become my sex and rank, to relieve thy mind. 
In advising thee to attach thyself to this Colon, and to enter 
freely into his noble schemes, I had thine own happiness in 
view, as thou hast, time and again, sworn to me, thy happiness 
could only be secured" — 

"Mercedes! what meanest thou ? My happiness can only 
be secured by a union with thee !" 

"And thy union with me can only be secured by thy en- 
nobling that besetting propensity to roving, by some act of 
worthy renown, that shall justify Dona Beatriz in bestowing her 
ward on a truant nephew, and gain the favor of Dona Isabella." 

"And thou! — would this adventure win thee, too, to view 
me with kindness ?" 

"Luis, if thou wilt know all, I am won already — nay — res- 



88 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

train this impetuosity, and hear all I have to say. Even while 
I confess so much more than is seemly in a maiden, thou art 
not to suppose I can further forget myself. "Without the cheer- 
ful consent of my guardian, and the gracious approbation of 
Her Highness, I will wed no man — no, not even thee, Luis de 
Bobadilla, dear as I acknowledge thee to be to my heart" — the 
ungovernable emotions of female tenderness caused the words 
to be nearly smothered in tears — u would I wed, without the 
smiles and congratulations of all who have a right to smile, or 
weep, for any of the house of Yalverde. Thou and I cannot 
marry like a village hind and village girl ; it is suitable that we 
stand before a prelate, with a large circle of approving friends 
to grace our union. Ah ! Luis, thou hast reproached me with 
coldness and indifference to thee" — sobs nearly stifled the 
generous girl — " but others have not been so blind — nay, speak 
not, but suffer me, now that my heart is overflowing, to unbur- 
den myself to thee, entirely, for I fear that shame and regret 
will come soon enough to cause repentance for what I now con- 
fess—but all have not been blind as thou. Our gracious queen 
well understandeth the female heart, and that thou hast been 
so slow to discover, she hath long seen ; and her quickness of 
eye and thought hath alone prevented me from saying to thee, 
earlier, a part at least of that which I now reluctantly con- 
fess"— 

" How ! Is Dona Isabella, too, my enemy ? Have I Her 
Highness' scruples to overcome, as well as those of my cold- 
hearted and prudish aunt V 

"Luis, thy intemperance causeth thee to be unjust. Dona 
Beatriz of Moya is neither cold-hearted nor prudish, but all that 
is the reverse. A more generous or truer spirit never sacrificed 
self to friendship, and her very nature is frankness and simplici- 
ty. Much of that I so love in thee, cometh of her family, and 
thou shouldst not reproach her for it. As for Her Highness, 
certes, it is not needed that I should proclaim her qualities. 
Thou knowest that she is deemed the mother of her people ; 
that she regardeth the interests of all equally, or so far as her 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 89 

knowledge will allow ; and that what she doth for any, is ever 
done with true affection, and a prudence that I have heard the 
cardinal say, seemethto be inspired by infinite wisdom." 

"Ay, it is not difficult, Mercedes, to seem prudent, and be- 
nevolent, and inspired, with Castile for a throne, and Leon, 
with other rich provinces, for a footstool !" 

"Don Luis, if you would retain my esteem," answered the 
single-minded girl, with a gravity that had none of her sex's weak- 
ness in it, though much of her sex's truth — " speak not lightly 
of my royal mistress. Whatever she may have done in this 
matter, hath been done with a mother's feelings and a mother's 
kindness — thy injustice maketh me almost to apprehend, with 
a mother's wisdom." 

"Forgive me, adored, beloved Mercedes ! a thousand times 
more adored and loved than ever, now that thou hast been so 
generous and confiding. But I cannot rest in peace until I 
know what the queen hath said and done, in any thing that 
touch eth thee and me." 

" Thou knowest how kind and gracious the queen hath ever 
been to me, Luis, and how much I have reason to be grateful 
for her many condescensions and favors. I know not how it is, 
but, while thy aunt hath never seemed to detect my feelings, 
and all those related to me by blood have appeared to be in the 
same darkness, the royal eye hath penetrated a mystery that, at 
the moment, I do think, was even concealed from myself. Thou 
rememberest the tourney that took place just before thou left 
us on thy last mad expedition?" 

"Do I not? Was it not thy coldness after my success 
in that tourney, and when I even wore thy favors, that not 
only drove me out of Spain, but almost drove me out of the 
world?" 

"If the world could impute thy acts to such a cause, all ob- 
stacles would at once be removed, and we might be happy with- 
out further efforts. But," and Mercedes smiled, archly, though 
with great tenderness in her voice and looks, as she added, " I 
fear thou art much addicted to these fits of madness, and that 



90 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

thou wilt never cease to wish to be driven to the uttermost 
limits of the world, if not fairly out of it." 

" It is in thy power to make me as stationary as the towers 
of this Alhambra. One such smile, daily, would chain me like 
a captive Moor at thy feet, and take away all desire to look at 
other objects than thy beauty. But Her Highness — thou hast 
forgotten to add what Her Highness hath said and done." 

" In that tourney thou wert conqueror, Luis! The whole 
chivalry of Castile was in the saddle, that glorious day, 
and yet none could cope with thee ! Even Alonzo dc Ojeda 
was unhorsed by thy lance, and all mouths were filled with thy 
praises ; all memories — perhaps, it would be better to say that 
all memories but one — forgot thy failings." 

" And that one was thine, cruel Mercedes." 

" Thou knowest better, unkind Louis ! That day I remem- 
bered nothing but thy noble, generous heart, manly bearing in the 
tilt-yard, and excellent qualities. The more mindful memory 
was the queen's, who sent for me, to her closet, when the fes- 
tivities were over, and caused me to pass an hour with her, in 
gentle, affectionate discourse, before she touched at all on the real 
object of her command. She spoke to me, Luis, of our duties as 
Christians, of our duties as females, and, most of all, of the 
solemn obligations that Ave contract in wedlock, and of the 
many pains that, at best, attend that honored condition. When 
she had melted me to tears, by an affection that equalled a 
mother's love, she made me promise — and I confirmed it with a 
respectful vow — that I would never appear at the altar, while 
she lived, without her being present to approve of my nuptials ; 
or, if prevented by disease or duty, at least not without a con- 
sent given under her royal signature." 

"By St. Denis of Paris ! Her Highness endeavored to in- 
fluence thy generous and pure mind against me !" 

" Thy name was not even mentioned, Luis, nor would it 
have been in any way concerned in the discourse, had not my 
unbidden thoughts turned anxiously toward thee. "What Her 
Highness meditated, I do not even now know, but it was the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 91 

manner in which rny own sensitive feelings brought up thy 
image, that hath made me, perhaps idly, fancy the effect might 
be to prevent me from wedding thee, without Dona Isabella's 
consent. But, knowing, as I well do, her maternal heart and 
gentle affections, how can I doubt that she will yield to my 
wishes, when she knoweth that my choice is not really un- 
worthy, though it may seem to the severely prudent in some 
measure indiscreet." 

" But thou thinkest — thou feelest, Mercedes, that it was in 
fear of me that Her Highness extorted the vow J" 

" I apprehended it, as I have confessed, with more readiness 
than became a maiden's pride, because thou wert uppermost in 
my mind. Then thy triumphs throughout the day, and the man- 
ner in which thy name was in all men's mouths, might well tempt 
the thoughts to dwell on thy person." 

"Mercedes, thou canst not deny that thou believest Her 
Highness extorted that vow in dread of me?" 

"•"I wish to deny nothing that is true, Don Luis; and you 
are early teaching me to repent of the indiscreet avowal I 
have made. That it was in dread of you that Her Highness 
spoke, I do deny ; for I cannot think she has any such feelings 
toward you. She was full of maternal affection for me, and I 
think, for I will conceal naught that I truly believe, that appre- 
hension of thy powers to please, Luis, may have induced her to 
apprehend that an orphan girl, like myself, might possibly con- 
sult her fancy more than her prudence, and wed one who 
seemed to love the uttermost limits of the earth so much better 
than his own noble castles and his proper home." 

" And thou meanest to respect this vow !" 

" Luis ! thou scarce reflectest on thy words, or a question so 
sinful would not be put to me ! What Christian maiden ever 
forgets her vows, whether of pilgrimage, penitence, or perform- 
ance — and why should I be the first to incur this disgraceful 
guilt ? Besides, had I not vowed, the simple wish of the 
queen, expressed in her own royal person, would have been 
enough to deter me from wedding any. She is my sovereign, 



92 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

mistress, and, I might almost say, mother ; Doiia Beatriz her- 
self scarce manifesting greater interest in my welfare. Now, 
Luis, thou must listen to my suit, although I see thou art ready to 
exclaim, and protest, and invoke ; but I have heard thee patient- 
ly some years, and it is now my turn to speak and thine to 
listen. I do not think the queen had thee in her mind on the 
occasion of that vow, which was offered freely by me, rather 
than extorted, as thou seemest to think, by Her Highness. I 
do, then, believe that Dona Isabella supposed there might be a 
danger of my yielding to thy suit, and that she had apprehen- 
sions that one so much given to roving, might not bring, or 
keep, happiness in the bosom of a family. But, Luis, if ] Iw 
Highness hath not done thy noble, generous heart, justice ; jf 
she hath been deceived by appearances, like most of those 
around her ; if she hath not known thee, in short, is it not 
thine own fault ? Hast thou not been a frequent truant from 
Castile; and, even when present, hast thou been as attentive 
and assiduous in thy duties at court, as becometh thy high 
birth and admitted claims ? It is true, Her Highness, and all 
others who w^ere present, witnessed thy skill in the tourney, 
and in these wars thy name hath had frequent and honorable 
mention for prowess against the Moor ; but while the female 
imagination yields ready homage to this manliness, the female 
heart yearneth for other, and gentler, and steadier virtues, at 
the fireside and in the circle within. This, Dona Isabella hath 
seen, and felt, and knoweth, happy as hath been her own mar- 
riage with the King of Aragon ; and is it surprising that she 
hath felt this concern for me ? No, Luis ; feeling hath made 
thee unjust to our royal mistress, whom it is now manifestly thy 
interest to propitiate, if thou art sincere in thy avowed desire 
to obtain my hand." 

" And how is this to be done, Mercedes ? The Moor is con- 
quered, and I know not that any knight would meet me to do 
battle for thy favor.' ' 

"The queen wisheth nothing of this sort — neither do I. 
We both know thee as an accomplished Christian knight al- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 93 

ready, and, as thou hast just said, there is no one to meet thy 
lance, for no one hath met with the encouragement to justify 
the folly. It is through this Colon that thou art to win the 
royal consent." 

" I believe I have, in part, conceived thy meaning ; but 
would fain hear thee speak more plainly." 

" Then I will tell thee in words as distinct as my tongue can 
utter them," rejoined the ardent girl, the tint of tenderness 
gradually deepening on her cheek to the flush of a holy enthu- 
siasm, as she proceeded : " Thou knowest already the general 
opinions of the Senor Colon, and the mode in which he pro- 
poseth to effect his ends. I was still a child when he first 
appeared in Castile, to urge the court to embark in this great 
enterprise, and I can see that Her Highness hath often been 
disposed to yield her aid, when the coldness of Don Fernando, 
or the narrowness of her ministers, hath diverted her mind from 
the object. I think she yet regardeth the scheme with favor ; 
for it is quite lately that Colon, who had taken leave of us all, 
with the intent to quit Spain and seek elsewhere for means, 
was summoned to return, through the influence of Fray Juan 
Perez, the ancient confessor of Her Highness. He is now here, 
as thou hast seen, waiting impatiently for an audience, and it 
needeth only to quicken the queen's memory, to obtain for him 
that favor. Should he get the caravels he asketh, no doubt many 
of the nobles will feel a desire to share in an enterprise that 
will confer lasting honor on all concerned, if successful ; and 
thou mightst make one." 

" I know not how to regard this solicitude, Mercedes, for it 
seemeth strange to wish to urge those we affect to value, to 
enter on an expedition whence they may never return." 

" God will protect thee !" answered the girl, her face glowing 
with pious ardour : " the enterprise will be undertaken for his 
glory, and his powerful hand will guide and shield the caravels." 

Don Luis de Bobadilla smiled, having far less religious faith 
and more knowledge of physical obstacles than his mistress. 
He did full justice to her motives, notwithstanding his hastily 



94 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

expressed doubts ; and the adventure was of a nature to arouse 
his constitutional love of roving, and his desire for encountering 
clangers. Both he and Mercedes well knew that he had fairlj 
earned no small part of that distrust of his character, which 
alone thwarted their wishes ; and, quick of intellect, he well 
understood the means and manner by which he was to gain 
Dona Isabella's consent. The few doubts that he really enter- 
tained were revealed by the question that succeeded. 

" If Her Highness is disposed to favor this Colon," he asked, 
" why hath the measure been so long delayed }' ■ 

"This Moorish war, an empty treasury, and the wary cold- 
ness of the king, have prevented it." 

" Might not Her Highness look upon all the followers of the 
man, as so many vain schemers, should we return without suc- 
cess, as will most likely be the case — if, indeed, we ever re- 
turn?" , 

" Such is not Dona Isabella's character. She will enter into 
this project, in honor of God, if she entereth into it at all ; and 
she will regard all who accompany Colon voluntarily, as so 
many crusaders, well entitled to her esteem. Thou wilt not 
return unsuccessful, Luis ; but with such credit as will cause 
thy wife to glory in her choice, and to be proud of thy name." 

" Thou art a most dear enthusiast, beloved girl ! If I could 
take thee with me, I would embark in the adventure, with no 
other companion." 

A fitting reply was made to this gallant, and, at the moment, 
certainly sincere speech, after which the matter was discussed 
between the two, with greater calmness and far more intelligibly. 
Don Luis succeeded in restraining his impatience ; and the 
generous confidence with which Mercedes gradually got to 
betray her interest in him, and the sweet, holy earnestness with 
which she urged the probability of success, brought him at 
length to view the enterprise as one of lofty objects, rather than 
as a scheme which flattered his love of adventure. 

Dona Beatriz left the lovers alone for quite two hours, the 
queen requiring her presence all that time ; and soon after she 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 95 

returned, her reckless, roving, indiscreet, but noble-hearted and 
manly nephew, took his leave. Mercedes and her guardian, 
however, did not retire until midnight ; the former laying open 
her whole heart to the marchioness, and explaining all her 
hopes as they were connected with the enterprise of Colon. 
Dona Beatriz was both gratified and pained by this confession, 
while she smiled at the ingenuity of love, in coupling the great 
designs of the Genoese with the gratification of its own wishes. 
Still she was not displeased. Luis de Bobadilla was the son of 
an only and much-beloved brother, and she had transferred to 
her nephew most of the affection she had felt for the father. 
All who knew him, indeed, were fond of the handsome and 
gallant young cavalier, though the prudent felt compelled to 
frown on his indiscretions ; and he might have chosen a wife, 
at will, from among the fair and high-born of Castile, with the 
few occasional exceptions that denote the circumspection and 
reserve of higher principles than common, and a forethought 
that extends beyond the usual considerations of marriage. The 
marchioness, therefore, was not an unwilling listener to her 
ward ; and ere they separated for the night, the ingenuous but 
modest confessions, the earnest eloquence, and the tendei 
ingenuity, of Mercedes, had almost made a convert of Dona 
Beatriz. 



1*6 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



CHAPTER VI. 

M Looke back, who list, unto the former ages, 
And call to count, what is of them become, 
"Where be those learned wits and antique sages, 
Which of all wisdom knew the perfect somme ? 
"Where those great warriors which did overcome 
The world with conquest of their might and maine, 
And made one meare of th' earth and of their raigne." 

Euins op Time. 

Two or three days liad passed before tlie Christians began 
to feel at home in the ancient seat of Mahommedan power. By 
that time, however, the Alhambra and the town got to be more 
regulated than they were during the hurry, delight, and grief, 
of taking possession and departing ; and as the politic and far 
from ill-disposed Ferdinand had issued strict orders that the 
Moors should not only be treated with kindness, but with deli- 
cacy, the place gradually settled down into tranquillity, and men 
began to fall into their ancient habits and to interest themselves 
in their customary pursuits. 

Don Fernando was much occupied with new cares, as a mat- 
ter of course ; but his illustrious consort, who reserved herself 
for great occasions, exercising her ordinary powers in the quiet, 
gentle manner that became her sex and native disposition, her 
truth and piety, had already withdrawn, as far as her high rank 
and substantial authority would allow, from the pageantry and 
martial scenes of a warlike court, and was seeking, with her 
wonted readiness, the haunts of private affection, and that 
intercourse which is most congenial to the softer affections 
of a woman. Her surviving children were with her, and 
they occupied much of her maternal care ; but she had also 
many hours for friendship, and for the indulgence of an affec- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 97 

tion that appeared to include all her subjects within the ties of 
family. 

On the morning of the third day that succeeded the evening 
of the interview related in the preceding chapter, Dona Isabella 
had collected about her person a few of those privileged indi- 
viduals who might be said to have the entree to her more pri- 
vate hours ; for while that of Castile was renowned among 
Christian courts for etiquette, habits that it had probably de- 
rived from the stately oriental usages of its Mahommedan neigh- 
bors, the affectionate nature of the queen had cast a halo around 
her own private circle, that at once rendered it graceful as well 
as delightful to all who enjoyed the high honor of entering it. 
At that day, churchmen enjoyed a species of exclusive favor, 
mingling with all the concerns of life, and not unfrequently con- 
trolling them. While we are quick to detect blemishes of this 
sort among foreign nations, and are particularly prone to point 
out the evils that have flowed from the meddling of the Romish 
divines, we verify the truth of the venerable axiom that teaches 
us how much easier it is to see the faults of others than to dis- 
cover our own ; for no people afford stronger evidences of the 
existence of this control, than the people of the United States, 
more especially that portion of them who dwell in places that 
were originally settled by religionists, and which still continue 
under the influence of the particular sects that first prevailed ; 
and perhaps the strongest national trait that exists among us at 
this moment — that of a disposition to extend the control of so- 
ciety beyond the limits set by the institutions and the laws, 
under the taking and plausible appellation of Public Opinion — 
has its origin in the polity of churches of a democratic charac- 
ter, -that have aspired to be an imperium in imperio, confirmed 
and strengthened by their modes of government and by provin 
cial habits. Be the fact as it may among ourselves, there is no 
question of the ascendency of the Catholic priesthood through- 
out Christendom, previously to the reformation ; and Isabella 
was too sincerely devout, too unostentatiously pious, not to 
allow them every indulgence that comported with her own sense 



98 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

of right, and among others, that of a free access to her pres- 
ence, and an influence on all her measures. 

On the occasion just named, among others who were present 
was Fernando de Talavera, a prelate of high station, who had 
just been named to the new dignity of Archbishop of Gran- 
ada, and the Fray Pedro de Carrascal, the former teacher of 
Luis de Bobadilla, an unbeneficed divine, who owed his favor 
to great simplicity of character, aided by his high birth. Isa- 
bella, herself, was seated at a little table, where she was em- 
ployed with her needle, the subject of her toil being a task as 
homely as a shirt for the king, it being a part of her womanly 
propensities to acquit herself of this humble duty, as scrupu- 
lously as if she had been the wife of a common tradesman of 
her own capital. This was one of the habits of the age, how- 
ever, if not a part of the policy of princes ; for most travellers 
have seen the celebrated saddle of the Queen of Burgundy, with 
a place arranged for the distaff, that, when its owner rode forth, 
she might set an example of thrift to her admiring subjects ; 
and with our own eyes, in these luxurious times, when few 
private ladies even condescend to touch any thing as useful as 
the garment that occupied the needle of Isabella of Castile, we 
have seen a queen, seated amid her royal daughters, as diligent- 
ly employed with the needle as if her livelihood depended on 
her industry. But Dona Isabella had no affectations. In feel- 
ings, speech, nature, and acts, she was truth itself; and matri- 
monial tenderness gave her a deeply felt pleasure in thus being 
occupied for a husband whom she tenderly loved as a man, 
while it was impossible she could entirely conceal from herself 
all his faults as a monarch. Near her sat the companion of 
her girlish days, the long-tried and devoted Beatriz de Cabrera. 
Mercedes occupied a stool, at the feet of the Infanta Isabella, 
while one or two other ladies of the household were placed at 
hand, with such slight distinctions of rank as denoted the pres- 
ence of royalty, but with a domestic freedom that made these 
observances graceful without rendering them fatiguing. The 
king himself was writing at a table, in a distant corner of the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE 99 

vast apartment ; and no one, the newly-created archbishop not 
excepted, presumed to approach that side of the room. The 
discourse was conducted in a tone a little lower than common ; 
even the queen, whose voice was always melody, modulating 
its tones in a way not to interfere with the train of thought into 
which her illustrious consort appeared to be profoundly plunged. 
But, at the precise moment that we now desire to present to the 
reader, Isabella had been deeply lost in reflection for some time, 
and a general silence prevailed in the female circle around the 
little work-tables. 

" Daughter-Marchioness" — for so the queen usually ad- 
dressed her friend — " Daughter-Marchioness," said Isabella, 
arousing herself from the long silence, " hath aught been seen 
or heard of late of the Senor Colon, the pilot who hath so long 
urged us on the subject of this western voyage ?" 

The quick, hurried glance of intelligence and gratification, 
that passed between Mercedes and her guardian, betrayed the 
interest they felt in this question, while the latter answered, as 
became her duty and her respect for her mistress — 

" You remember, Senora, that he was written for, by Fray 
Juan Perez, Your Highness' ancient confessor, who journeyed 
all the way from his convent of Santa Maria de Rabida, in 
Andalusia, to intercede in his behalf, that his great designs 
might not be lost to Castile.' ' 

u Thou thinkest his designs, then, great, Daughter Mar- 
chioness ¥' 

" Can any think them otherwise, Senora ? They seem rea- 
sonable and natural, and if just, is it not a great and laudable 
undertaking to extend the bounds of the church, and to confer 
honor and wealth on one's own country? My enthusiastic 
ward, Mercedes de Valverde, is so zealous in behalf of this 
navigator's great project, that, next to her duty to her God, and 
her duty to her sovereigns, it seemeth to make the great con- 
cern of her life." 

The queen turned a smiling face toward the blushing girl 
who was the subject of this remark, and she gazed at her, for 



100 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

an instant, with the expression of affection that was so wont to 
illuminate her lovely countenance when dwelling on the features 
of her own daughters. 

" Dost thou acknowledge this, Dona Mercedes V she said ; 
4 ' hath Colon so convinced thee, that thou art thus zealous in 
his behalf?" 

Mercedes arose, respectfully, when addressed by the queen, 
and she advanced a step or two nearer to the royal person before 
she made any reply. 

" It becometh me to speak modestly, in this presence," said 
the beautiful girl ; " but I shall not deny that I feel deep con- 
cern for the success of the Senor Colon. The thought is so 
noble, Senora, that it were a pity it should not be just." 

" This is the reasoning of the young and generous-minded ; 
and I confess myself, Beatrice, almost as childish as any, on this 
matter, at times — Colon, out of question, is still here?" 

" Indeed he is, Senora," answered Mercedes, eagerly, and 
with a haste she immediately repented, for the inquiry was 
not made directly to herself; "I know of one who hath 
seen him as lately as the day the troops took possession of the 
town." 

1 Who is that person?" asked the queen, steadily, but not 
severely, her eye having turned again to the face of the girl, 
with an interest that continued to increase as she gazed. 

Mercedes now bitterly regretted her indiscretion, and, in spite 
of a mighty effort to repress her feelings, the tell-tale blood 
mounted to her temples, ere she could find resolution to reply. 

" Don Luis de Bobadilla, Senora, the nephew of my guardian, 
Dona Beatriz," she at length answered ; for the love of truth 
was stronger in this pure- hearted young creature, even, than 
the dread of shame. 

" Thou art particular, Seiiorita," Isabella observed calmly, 
severity seldom entering into her communication with the just- 
minded and good; " Don Luis cometh of too illustrious a 
house to need a herald to proclaim his alliances. It is only 
the obscure that the world doth not trouble itself about. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 101 

Daughter-Marchioness," relieving Mercedes from a state scarce- 
ly less painful than the rack, by turning her eyes toward her 
friend, " this nephew of thine is a confirmed rover — but I doubt 
if he could be prevailed on to undertake an expedition like this 
of Colon's, that hath in view the glory of God and the benefit 
of the realm." 

" Indeed, Senora" — Mercedes repressed her zeal by a sudden 
and triumphant effort. 

" Thou wert about to speak, Dona Mercedes," gravely ob- 
served the queen. 

" I crave Your Highness' forgiveness. It was improperly, 
as your own words were not addressed to me." 

" This is not the court of the Queen of Castile, daughter, 
but the private room of Isabella de Trastamara," said the 
queen, willing to lessen the effect of what had already passed. 
"Thou hast the blood of the Admiral of Castile in thy veins, 
and art even akin to our Lord the King. Speak freely, then." 

" I know your gracious goodness to me, Senora, and had 
nearly forgotten myself, under its influence. All I had to say 
was, that Don Luis de Bobadilla desireth exceedingly that the 
Senor Colon might get the caravels he seeketh, and that he 
himself might obtain the royal permission to make one among 
the adventurers." 

" Can this be so, Beatriz ?" 

" Luis is a truant, Senora, beyond a question, but it is not 
with ignoble motives. I have heard him ardently express his 
desire to be one of Colon's followers, should that person be sent 
by Your Highness in search of the land of Cathay." 

Isabella made no reply, but she laid her homely work in her 
lap, and sat musing, in pensive silence, for several minutes. 
During this interval, none near her presumed to speak, and Mer- 
cedes retired, stealthily, to her stool, at the feet of the Infanta. 
At length the queen arose, and, crossing the room, she ap- 
proached the table where Don Fernando was still busily en- 
gaged with the pen. Here she paused a moment, as if un- 
willing to disturb him ; but soon, laying a hand kindly on his 
5 



102 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

shoulder, she drew Iris attention to herself. The king, as if 
conscious whence such familiarity could alone proceed, looked 
around immediately, and, rising from his chair, he was the first 
to speak. 

" These Moriscoes need looking to," he said, betraying the 
direction that his thoughts had so early taken toward the in- 
crease of his power — "I find we have left Abdallah many 
strongholds in the Apulxarras, that may make him a trouble- 
some neighbor, unless we can push him across the Mediterra- 
nean" — 

" Of this, Fernando, we will converse on some other oppor- 
tunity," interrupted the queen, whose pure mind disliked every 
thing that even had an approach to a breach of faith. " It is 
hard enough for those who control the affairs of men, always to 
obey God and their own consciences, without seeking occasions 
to violate their faith. I have come to thee, on another matter. 
The hurry of the times, and the magnitude of our affairs, have 
caused us to overlook the promise given to Colon, the navi- 
gator" — 

"Still busied with thy needle, Isabella, and for my comfort," 
observed the king, playing with the shirt that his royal con- 
sort had unconsciously brought in her hand ; " few subjects 
have wives as considerate and kind as thou !" 

" Thy comfort and happiness stand next to my duty to God 
and the care of my people," returned Isabella, gratified at the 
notice the King of Aragon had taken of this little homage of 
her sex, even while she suspected that it came from a wish to 
parry the subject that was then uppermost in her thoughts. 
" I would do naught in this important concern, without thy 
fullest approbation, if that may be had ; and I think it toucheth 
our royal words to delay no longer. Seven years are a most 
cruel probation, and, unless we are active, we shall have some 
of the hot-blooded young nobles of the kingdom undertaking 
the matter, as their holiday sports." 

" Thou say'st true, Senora, and we will refer the subject, at 
once, to Fernando de Talavera, yonder, who is of approved dis- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 103 

cretion, and one to be relied on." As the king spoke, he 
beckoned to the individual named, who immediately approached 
the royal pair. " Archbishop of Granada,'' continued the wily 
king, who had as many politic arts as a modern patriot intently 
bent on his own advancement — " Archbishop of Granada, our 
royal consort hath a desire that this affair of Colon should be 
immediately inquired into, and reported on to ourselves. It is 
our joint command that you, and others, take the matter, before 
the next twenty-four hours shall pass, into mature consideration 
and inquiry, and that you lay the result before ourselves. The 
names of your associates shall be given to you in the course of 
the day." 

While the tongue of Ferdinand was thus instructing the pre- 
late, the latter read in the expression of the monarch's eye, and 
in the coldness of his countenance, a meaning that his quick and 
practiced wits were not slow in interpreting. He signified his 
dutiful assent, however; received the names of his associates in 
the commission, of whom Isabella pointed out one or two, and 
then waited to join in the discourse. 

" This project of Colon's is worthy of being more seriously 
inquired into," resumed the king, when these preliminaries 
were settled, "and it shall be our care to see that he hath all 
consideration. They tell me the honest navigator is a good 
Christian." 

"I think him devotedly so, Don Fernando. He hath a 
purpose, should God prosper his present undertaking, to join in 
a new effort to regain the holy sepulchre." 

" TJmph ! Such designs may be meritorious, but ours is the 
true way to advance the faith — this conquest of our own. We 
have raised the cross, my wife, where the ensigns of infidelity 
were lately seen, and Granada is so near Castile that it will not 
be difficult to maintain our altars. Such, at least, are the opin- 
ions of a layman — holy prelate — on these matters." 

"And most just and wise opinions are they, Senor," returned 
the archbishop. " That which can be retained, it is wisest to 
seek, for we lose our labors in gaining things that Providence 



104 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

hath placed so far beyond our control, that they do not seem 
designed for our purposes/ ' 

"There are those, my Lord Archbishop," observed the 
queen, " who might argue against all attempts to recover the 
holy sepulchre, hearing opinions like these, from so high au- 
thority !" 

"Then, Seiiora, they would misconceive that authority," the 
politic prelate hurriedly replied. " It is well ftr all Christendom, 
to drive the Infidels from the Holy Land ; but for Castile it is 
better to dispossess them of Granada. The distinction is a very 
plain one, as every sound casuist must admit." 

"This truth is as evident to our reason," added Ferdinand, 
casting a look of calm exultation out at a window, ' * as that 
yonder towers were once Abdallah's, and that they are now our 
own !" 

"Better for Castile!" repeated Isabella, in the tones of one 
who mused. " For her worldly power better, perhaps, but not 
better for the souls of those who achieve the deed — surely, not 
better for the glory of God !" 

" My much-honored wife, and beloved consort" — said the 
king. 

" Senora" — added the prelate. 

But Isabella walked slowly away, pondering on principles, 
while the eyes of the two worldings she left behind her, met, 
with the sort of free-masonry that is in much request among 
those who are too apt to substitute the expedient for the right. 
The queen did not return to her seat, but she walked up and 
down that part of the room which, the archbishop had left 
vacant when he approached herself and her husband. Here 
she remained alone for several minutes, even Ferdinand hold- 
ing her in too much reverence to presume to disturb her 
meditations, uninvited. The queen several times cast glances 
at Mercedes, and, at length, she commanded her to draw near. 

" Daughter," said Isabella, who frequently addressed those 
she loved by this endearing term, " thou hast not forgotten thy 
freely-offered vow?" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 105 

"Next to my duty^to God, Senora, I most consider my duty 
to my sovereign." 

Mercedes spoke firmly, and in those tones that seldom de- 
ceive. | Isabella riveted her eyes on the pale features of the 
beautiful girl, and when the words just quoted were uttered, a 
tender mother could not have regarded a beloved child with 
stronger proofs of affection. 

" Thy duty to God overshadoweth all other feelings, daugh- 
ter, as is just," answered the queen ; " thy duty to me is sec- 
ondary and inferior. Still, thou and all others, owe a solemn 
duty to your sovereign, and I should be unfit for the high trust 
that I have received from Providence, did I permit any of these 
obligations to lessen. It is not I that reign in Castile, but 
Providence, through its humble and unworthy instrument. My 
people are my children, and I often pray that I may have heart 
enough to hold them all. If princes are sometimes obliged to 
frown on the unworthy, it is but in humble and distant imita- 
tion of that Power which cannot smile on evil." 

" I hope, Senora," said the girl, timidly, observing that the 
queen paused, "I have not been so unfortunate as to displease 
you ; a frown from Your Highness would indeed be a calamity!" 

" Thou ? No, daughter ; I would that all the maidens of 
Castile, noble and simple, were of thy truth, and modesty, and 
obedience. But we cannot permit thee to become the victim 
of the senses. Thou art too well taught, Dona Mercedes, not 
to distinguish between that which is brilliant and that which is 
truly virtuous" — 

" Senora!" cried Mercedes, eagerly — then checking herself, 
immediately, for she felt it was a disrespect to interrupt her 
sovereign. 

"1 listen to what thou wouldst say, daughter," Isabella an- 
swered, after pausing for the frightened girl to continue. "Speak 
freely; thou addressest a parent." 

"I was about to say, Senora, that if all that is brilliant is 
not virtuous, neither is all that is unpleasant to the sight, or 
what prudence might condemn, actually vicious." 



106 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" I understand thee, Senorita, and the^remark hath truth in 
it. Now, let us speak of other things. Thou appearest to be 
friendly to the designs of this navigator, Colon ?" 

" The opinion of one untaught and youthful as I, can have 
little weight with the Queen of Castile, who can ask counsel of 
prelates and learned churchmen, besides consulting her own 
wisdom ;" Mercedes modestly answered. 

"But thou thinkest well of his project; or have I mistaken 
thy meaning?" 

" No, Seiiora, I do think well of Colon's scheme ; for to me 
it seemeth of that nobleness and grandeur that Providence 
would favor, for the good of man and the advancement of the 
church." 

" And thou believest that nobles and cavaliers can be found 
willing to embark with this obscure Genoese, in his bold under- 
taking p 

The queen felt the hand that she affectionately held in both 
her own, tremble, and when she looked at her companion she 
perceived that her face was crimsoned and her eyes lowered. 
But the generous girl thought the moment critical for the for- 
tunes of her lover, and she rallied all her energies in order to 
serve his interests. 

" Senora, I do," she answered, with a steadiness that both 
surprised and pleased the queen, who entered into and apprecia- 
ted all her feelings ; " I think Don Luis de Bobadilla will em- 
bark with him ; since his aunt hath conversed freely with him 
on the nature and magnitude of the enterprise, his mind dwell- 
eth on little else. He would be willing to furnish gold for the 
occasion, could his guardians be made to consent." 

" Which any guardian would be very wrong to do. We 
may deal freely with our own, but it is forbidden to jeopard the 
goods of another. If Don Luis de Bobadilla persevere in this 
intention, and act up to his professions, I shall think more fa- 
vorably of his character than circumstances have hitherto led 
me to do." 

"Senora!" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



107 



"Hear me, daughter; we cannot now converse longer on 
this point,- the council waiting my presence, and the king hav- 
ing already left us. Thy guardian and I will confer together, 
and thou shalt not be kept in undue suspense ; but Mercedes 
de Valverde" — 

" My Lady the Queen"— 

" Remember thy vow, daughter. It was freely given, and 
must not be hastily forgotten." 

Isabella now kissed the pale cheek of the girl and withdrew, 
followed by all the ladies ; leaving the half-pleased and yet half- 
terrified Mercedes standing in the centre of the vast apartment, 
resembling a beautiful statue of Doubt. 




108 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



CHAPTER VII. 

•* lie that of such a height hath built his mind, 
And reared the dwelling of his thoughts so strong 
As neither fear nor hope can shake the frame 
Of his resolved powers. ,, 

Daniel. 

The following day the Alhambra was crowded with courtiers 
as usual ; applicants for favors, those who sought their own, 
and those who solicited the redress of imaginary wrongs. The 
antechambers were thronged, and the different individuals in 
waiting jealously eyed each other, as if to inquire how far their 
neighbors would be likely to thwart their several views or to 
advance their wishes. Men bowed, in general, coldly and with 
distrust ; and the few that did directly pass their greetings, met 
with the elaborated civility that commonly characterizes the in- 
tercourse of palaces. 

While curiosity was active in guessing at the business of the 
different individuals present, and whispers, nods, shrugs of the 
shoulders, and meaning glances, passed among the old stagers, 
as they communicated to each other the little they knew, or 
thought they knew, on different subjects, there stood in the 
corner of the principal apartment, one in particular, who might 
be distinguished from all around him, by his stature, the gravity 
and dignity of his air, and the peculiar sort of notice that he 
attracted. Few approached him, and they that did, as they 
turned their backs, cast those glances of self-sufficiency and 
ridicule about them, that characterize the vulgar-minded when 
they fancy that they are deriding or sneering in consonance with 
popular opinion. This was Columbus, who was very generally 
regarded by the multitude as a visionary schemer, and whc 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 109 

necessarily shared in that sort of contemptuous obloquy that 
attaches itself to the character. But even the wit and jokes of 
the crowd had been expended upon this subject, and the pa- 
tience of those who danced attendance was getting to be ex- 
hausted, when a little stir at the door announced the approach 
of some new courtier. The manner in which the throng 
quickly gave way, denoted the presence of some one of high 
rank, and presently Don Luis cle Bobadilla stood in the centre 
of the room. 

"It is the nephew of Her Highness' favorite," whispered 
one. 

"A noble of one of the most illustrious families of Castile," 
said another; "but a fitting associate of this Colon, as neither 
the authority of his guardians, the wishes of the queen, nor his 
high station, can keep him from the life of a vagabond." 

" One of the best lances in Spain, if he had the prudence 
and wisdom to turn his skill to profit," observed a third. 

" That is the youthful knight who hath so well deported 
himself in this last campaign," growled an inferior officer of the 
infantry, " and who unhorsed Don Alonso de Ojeda in the 
tourney ; but his lance is as unsteady in its aim, as it is good 
in the rest. They tell me he is a rover." 

As if purposely to justify this character, Luis looked about 
him anxiously a moment, and then made his way directly to 
the side of Colon. The smiles, nods, shrugs, and half-suppressed 
whispers that followed, betrayed the common feeling; but a 
door on the side of the closet opening, all eyes were imme- 
diately bent in that direction, and the little interruption just 
mentioned was as soon forgotten. 

"I greet you, Senor," said Luis, bowing respectfully to 
Columbus. u Since our discourse of last evening I have 
thought of little aesides its subject, and have come hither to 
renew it." 

That Columbus was pleased by this homage, appeared in his 
eye, his smile, and the manner in which he raised his body, as 
if full of the grandeur of his own designs; but he was compelled 



110 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

to defer the pleasure that it always gave him to dilate on his 
enterprise. 

" I am commanded hither, noble Seiior," he answered, cor- 
dially, "by the holy Archbishop of Granada, who, it seemeth, 
hath it in charge from their Highnesses, to bring my affair to 
a speedy issue, and who hath named this very morning for that 
purpose. We touch upon the verge of great events : the day 
is not distant, when this conquest of Granada will be forgotten, 
in the greater importance of the mighty things that God hath 
held in reserve !" 

" By San Pedro, my new patron ! I do believe you, Seiior. 
Cathay must lie at or near the spot you have named, and your 
own eyes shall not see it, and its gorgeous stories of wealth, 
sooner than mine. Kemember Pedro de Munos, I pray you, 
Seiior Colon. " 

" He shall not be forgotten, I promise you, young lord ; and 
all the great deeds of your ancestors will be eclipsed by the 
glory achieved by their son. But I hear my name called ; we 
will talk of this anon." 

" El Seiior Christoval Colon !" was called by one of the 
pages, in a loud authoritative voice, and the navigator hurried 
forward, buoyed up with hope and joy. 

The manner in which one so generally regarded with indif- 
ference, if not with contempt, had been selected from all that 
crowd of courtiers, excited some surprise ; but as the ordinary 
business of the antechamber went on, and the subordinates of 
office soon appeared in the rooms, to hear solicitations and an- 
swer questions, the affair was quickly forgotten. Luis with- 
drew disappointed, for he had hoped to enjoy another long 
discourse with Columbus, on a subject which, as it was con- 
nected with his dearest hopes, now occupied most of his 
thoughts. We shall leave him, however, and all in the ante- 
chambers, to follow the great navigator further into the depths 
of the palace. 

Fernando dc Talavera had not been unmindful of his orders. 
Instead, however, of associating with this prelate, men known to 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. Ill 

be well disposed to listen to the propositions of Columbus, the 
king and queen bad made the mistake of choosing some six or 
eight of their courtiers, persons of probity and of good general 
characters, but who were too little accustomed to learned 
research, properly to appreciate the magnitude of the proposed 
discoveries. Into the presence of these distinguished nobles 
and churchmen was Columbus now ushered, and among them 
is the reader to suppose him seated. We pass over the custom- 
ary ceremonies of the introduction, and proceed at once to 
the material part of the narrative. The Archbishop of Granada 
was the principal speaker on the part of the commissioners. 

"We understand, Setior Colon," continued the prelate, 
" should you be favored by their Highnesses' power and au- 
thority, that you propose to undertake a voyage into the un- 
known Atlantic, in quest of the land of Cathay and the celebra- 
ted island of Cipango ?" 

" That is my design, holy and illustrious prelate. The 
matter hath been so often up between the agents of the two 
sovereigns and myself, that there is little occasion to enlarge on 
my views." 

" These were fully discussed at Salamanca, of a verity, where 
many learned churchmen were of your way of thinking, Senor, 
though more were against it. Our Lord the King, and our 
Lady the Queen, how r ever, are disposed to view the matter 
favorably, and this commission hath been commanded that we 
might arrange all previous principles, and determine the rights 
o£ the respective parties. What force in vessels and equipments 
do you demand, in order to achieve the great objects you ex- 
pect, under the blessing of God, to accomplish W 

" You have well spoken, Lord Archbishop ; it will be by the 
blessing of God, and under his especial care, that all will be 
done, for his glory and worship are involved in the success. 
With so good an ally on my side, little worldly means will be 
necessary. Two caravels of light burden are all I ask, with the 
flag of the sovereigns, and a sufficiency of mariners. " 

The comissioners turned toward each other in surprise, 



112 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

and while some saw in the moderate request the enthusiastic 
heedlessness of a visionary, others detected the steady reliance 
of faith. 

" That is not asking much, truly," observed the prelate, who 
was among the first ; " and, though these wars have left us of 
Castile with an exhausted treasury, we could compass that little 
without the aid of a miracle. The caravels might be found, 
and the mariners levied, but there are weighty points to deter- 
mine before we reach that concession. You expect, Senor, 
to be intrusted with the command of the expedition, in your 
own person ?" 

" Without that confidence I could not be answerable for 
success. I ask the full and complete authority of an admiral, 
or a sea-commander, of their Highnesses. The force em- 
ployed will be trifling in appearance, but the risks will be great, 
and the power of the two crowns must completely sustain that 
of him on whose shoulders will rest the entire weight of the 
responsibility." 

"This is but just, and none will gainsay it. But, Senor, 
have you thought maturely on the advantages that are to 
accrue to the sovereigns, should they sustain you in this under- 
taking?" 

" Lord Archbishop, for eighteen years hath this subject oc- 
cupied my thoughts, and employed my studies, both by day 
and by night. In the whole of that long period have I done 
little that hath not had a direct bearing on the success of this 
mighty enterprise. The advantages to all concerned, that will 
flow from it, have, therefore, scarce been forgotten." 

" Name them, Senor." 

" First, then, as is due to his all-seeing and omnipotent 
protection, glory will be given to the Almighty, by the spread- 
ing of his church and the increase of his worshippers." Fer- 
nando de Talavera and all the churchmen present piously 
crossed themselves, an act in which Columbus himself joined. 
" Their Highnesses, as is meet, will reap the next advantages, 
in the extension of their empire and in the increase of their 



MERCEDES GF CASTILE. 113 

subjects. Wealth will flow in upon Castile and Aragon, in a 
rapid stream, His Holiness freely granting to Christian monarchs 
the thrones and territories of all infidel princes whose posses- 
sions may be discovered, or people converted to the faith, 
through their means." 

" This is plausible, Seilor," returned the prelate, " and 
founded on just principles. His Holiness certainly is entrusted 
with that power, and hath been known to use it, for the glory 
of God. You doubtless know, Seiior Colon, that Don John of 
Portugal hath paid great attention to these matters already, 
and that he and his predecessors have probably pushed dis- 
covery to the verge of its final limits. His enterprise hath 
also obtained from Kome certain privileges that may not be 
meddled with/' 

u I am not ignorant of the Portuguese enterprise, holy pre- 
late, nor of the spirit with which Don John hath exercised his 
power. His vessels voyage along the western shore of Africa, 
and in a direction altogether different from that I propose to 
take. My purpose is to launch forth, at once, into the broad 
Atlantic, and by following the sun toward his place of evening 
retirement, reach the eastern bounds of the Indies, by a road 
that will lessen the journey many months." 

Although the archbishop and most of his coadjutors belonged 
to the numerous class of those who regarded Columbus as a 
brain -heated visionary, the earnest, but lofty dignity, with which 
he thus simply touched upon his projects ; the manner in 
which he quietly smoothed down his white locks, when he had 
spoken; and the enthusiasm that never failed to kindle in his 
eye, as he dwelt on his noble designs, produced a deep im- 
pression on all present, and there was a moment when the 
general feeling was to aid him to the extent of the common 
means. It was a singular and peculiar proof of the existence 
of this transient feeling that one of the commissioners imme- 
diately inquired — 

' 'Do you propose, Senor Colon, to seek the court of Prestor 
John*" 



114 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" I know not, noble Senor, that such a potentate hath even 
an existence," answered Columbus, whose notions had got the 
fixed and philosophical bias that is derived from science, and 
who entered little into the popular fallacies of the day, though 
necessarily subject to much of the ignorance of the age ; " I 
find nothing to establish the truth of there being such a 
monarch at all, or such territories." 

This admission did not help the navigator's cause ; for to 
affirm that the earth was a sphere, and that Prestor John was 
a creature of the imagination, was abandoning the marvellous 
to fall back on demonstration and probabilities — a course that 
the human mind, in its uncultivated condition, is not fond of 
taking. 

" There are men who will be willing to put faith in the 
truth of Prestor John's power and territories," interrupted one 
of the commissioners, who was indebted to his present situa- 
tion purely to King Ferdinand's policy, " who will flatly deny 
that the earth is round ; since we all know that there are 
kings, and territories, and Christians, while we see that the 
earth and the ocean are plains." 

This opinion was received with an assenting smile by most 
present, though Fernando de Talavera had doubts of its justice. 

" Senor," answered Columbus, mildly, "if all in this world 
was in truth what it seemeth, confessions would be little 
needed, and penance would be much lighter." 

"I esteem you a good Christian, Senor Colon," observed tho. 
archbishop, sharply. 

" I am such as the grace of God and a weak nature have 
made me, Lord Archbishop ; though I humbly trust that when I 
shall have achieved this great end, that I may be deemed more 
worthy of the divine protection, as well as of the divine favor." 

" It hath been said that thou deemest thyself especially set 
apart by Providence for this work." 

" I feel that within me, holy prelate, that encourageth such 
a hope ; but I build naught on mysteries that exceed my com- 
prehension." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 115 

It would be difficult to say whether Columbus lost or gained 
in the opinions of his auditors, by this answer. The religious 
feeling of the age was in perfect consonance with the sentiment ; 
but, to the churchmen present, it seemed arrogant in a humble 
and unknown layman, even to believe it possible that he could 
be the chosen vessel, when so many who appeared to have 
higher claims were rejected. Still no expression of this feeling 
was permitted, for it was then, as it is now — he who seemed to 
rely on the power of God, carrying with him a weight and an 
influence that ordinarily checked rebukes. 

" You propose to endeavor to reach Cathay by means of sail- 
ing forth into the broad Atlantic," resumed the archbishop, 
" and yet yon deny the existence of Prestor John." 

" Your pardon, holy prelate — I do propose to reach Cathay 
and Cipango in the mode you mention, but I do not absolutely 
deny the existence of the monarch you have named. For the 
probability of the success of my enterprise, I have already pro- 
duced my proofs and reasons, which have satisfied many learned 
churchmen; but evidence is wanting to establish the last." 

" And yet Giovanni di Montecorvino, a pious bishop of our 
holy church, is said to have converted such a prince to the true 
faith, nearly two centuries since." 

" The power of God can do any thing, Lord Archbishop, and 
I am not one to question the merits of his chosen ministers. 
All I can answer on this point is, to say that I find no scientific 
or plausible reasons to justify me in pursuing what may prove 
to be as deceptive as the light which recedes before the hand 
that would touch it. As for Cathay and its position and its 
wonders, we have the better established evidence of the re- 
nowned Venetians, Marco and JSTicolo Polo, who not only trav- 
elled in those territories, but sojourned years at the court of 
their monarch. But, noble gentlemen, whether there is a Pres- 
tor John, or a Cathay, there is certainly a limit to the western 
side of the Atlantic, and that limit I am ready to seek." 

The archbishop betrayed his incredulity in the upward turn 
of his eyes ; but having his commands from those who were 



116 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

accustomed to be obeyed, and knowing that the theory of Co- 
lumbus had been gravely heard and reported on, years before, 
at Salamanca, he determined prudently to keep within his 
proper sphere, and to proceed at once to that into which it was 
his duty to inquire. 

" You have set forth the advantages that you think may be 
derived to the sovereigns, should your project succeed, Seiior," 
he said, " and truly they are not light, if all your brilliant hopes 
may be realized ; but it now remaineth to know what conditions 
you reserve for yourself, as the reward of all your risks and 
many years of anxious labor." 

"All that hath been duly considered, illustrious archbishop, 
and you will find the substance of my wishes set forth in this 
paper, though many of the smaller provisions will remain to be 
enumerated." 

As Columbus spoke he handed the paper in question to Fer- 
dinand of Talavera. The prelate ran his eyes over it hastily at 
first, but a second time with more deliberation, and it would be 
difficult to say whether ridicule or indignation was most strong- 
ly expressed in his countenance, as he deridingly threw the 
document on a table. When this act of contempt was per- 
formed, he turned toward Columbus, as if to satisfy himself 
that the navigator was not mad. 

"Art thou serious in demanding these terms, Senor V he 
asked sternly, and with a look that would have caused most 
men, in the humble station of the applicant, to swerve from 
their purpose. 

" Lord Archbishop," answered Columbus, with a dignity that 
was not easily disturbed, " this matter hath now occupied my 
mind quite eighteen years. During the whole of this long 
period I have thought seriously of little else, and it may be said 
to have engaged my mind sleeping and waking. I saw the truth 
early and intensely, but every day seems to bring it brighter 
and brighter before my eyes. I feel a reliance on success, that 
cometh from dependence on God. I think myself an agent, 
chosen for the accomplishment of great ends, and ends that will 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 1 1 7 

not be decided by the success of this one enterprise. There is 
more beyond, and I must retain the dignity and the means 
necessary to accomplish it. I cannot abate, in the smallest de- 
gree, the nature or the amount of these conditions." 

Although the manner in which these words were uttered lent 
them weight, the prelate fancied that the mind of the navigator 
had got to be unsettled by his long contemplation of a single 
subject. The only things that left any doubt concerning the 
accuracy of this opinion, were the method and science with 
which he had often maintained, even in his own presence, the 
reasonableness of his geographical suppositions; arguments 
which, though they had failed to convince one bent on believing 
the projector a visionary, had, nevertheless, greatly puzzled the 
listener. Still, the demands he had just read seemed so ex- 
travagant, that, for a single instant, a sentiment of pity re- 
pressed the burst of indignation to which he felt disposed to 
give vent. 

" How like ye, noble lords/' he cried, sarcastically, turning 
to two or three of his fellow-commissioners, who had eagerly 
seized the paper and were endeavoring to read it, and all at the 
same moment, "the moderate and modest demands of the 
Senor Christoval Colon, the celebrated navigator who confound- 
ed the Council of Salamanca ! Are they not such as becometh 
their Highnesses to accept on bended knees, and with many 
thanks?" 

"Read them, Lord Archbishop," exclaimed several in a 
breath. " Let us first know their nature." 

" There are many minor conditions that might be granted, as 
unworthy of discussion," resumed the prelate, taking the paper; 
" but here are two that must give the sovereigns infinite satis- 
faction. The Senor Colon actually satisfieth himself with the 
rank of Admiral and Viceroy over all the countries he may dis- 
cover ; and as for gains, one-tenth — the church's share, my 
brethren — yea, even one -tenth, one humble tenth of the pro- 
ceeds and customs, will content him !" 

The general murmur that passed among the commissioners. 



118 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

denoted a common dissatisfaction, and at that instant Columbus 
had not a true supporter in the room. 

" Nor is this all, illustrious nobles, and holy priests," con- 
tinued the archbishop, following up his advantage as soon as he 
believed his auditors ready to hear him — " nor is this all ; lest 
these high dignities should weary their Highnesses' shoulders, 
and those of their royal progeny, the liberal Genoese actually 
consenteth to transmit them to his own posterity, in all time to 
come ; converting the kingdom of Cathay into a realm for the 
uses of the house of Colon, to maintain the dignity of which, 
the tenth of all the benefits are to be consigned to its especial 
care !" 

There would have been an open laugh at this sally, had not 
the noble bearing of Columbus checked its indulgence ; and 
even Ferdinand of Talavera, under the stern rebuke of an eye 
and mien that carried with them a grave authority, began to 
think he had gone too far. 

" Your pardon, Seiior Colon," he immediately and more 
courteously added ; " but your conditions sounded so lofty that 
they have quite taken me by surprise. You cannot seriously 
mean to maintain them ?" 

" Not one jot will I abate, Lord Priest: that much will be 
my due ; and he that consenteth to less than he deserveth, be- 
cometh an instrument of his own humiliation. I shall give to 
the sovereigns an empire that will far exceed in value all their 
other possessions, and I claim my reward. I tell you, more- 
over, reverend prelate, that there is much in reserve, and that 
these conditions will be needed to fulfil the future." 

" These are truly modest proposals for a nameless Genoese !• ■ 
exclaimed one of the courtiers, who had been gradually swell- 
ing with disgust and contempt. "The Senor Colon will be 
certain of commanding in the service of their Highnesses, and 
if nothing is done he will have that high honor without cost ; 
whereas, should this most improbable scheme lead to any bene- 
fits, he will become a vice-king, humbly contenting himself 
with the church's revenue !" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 119 

This remark appeared to determine the wavering, and the 
commissioners rose, in a body, as if the matter were thought to 
be unworthy of further discussion. With the view to preseive 
at least the -appearance of impartiality and discretion, however, 
the archbishop turned once more toward Columbus, and now, 
certain of obtaining his ends, he spoke to him in milder 
tones. 

11 For the last time, Senor," he said, " I ask if you still insist 
on these unheard-of terms V 

" On them, and on no other," said Columbus, firmly. "I 
know the magnitude of the services I shall perform, and will 
not degrade them — will in no manner lessen their dignity, by 
accepting aught else. But, Lord Archbishop, and you, too, 
noble Senor, that treateth my claims so lightly, I am ready to 
add to the risk of person, life, and name, that of gold. I will 
furnish one-eighth of the needful sums, if ye will increase my 
benefits in that proportion." 

" Enough, enough," returned the prelate, preparing to quit 
the room ; "we will make our report to the sovereigns, this in- 
stant, and thou shalt speedily know their pleasure." 

Thus terminated the conference. The courtiers left the 
room, conversing earnestly among themselves, like men who 
did not care to repress their indignation ; while Columbus, filled 
with the noble character of his own designs, disappeared in 
another direction, with the bearing of one whose self-respect was 
not to be lessened by clamor, and who appreciated ignorance 
and narrowness of views too justly to suffer them to change his 
own high purposes. 

Ferdinand of Talavera was as good as his word. He was the 
queen's confessor, and, in virtue of that holy office, had at all 
times access to her presence. Full of the subject of the late 
interview, he took his way directly to the private apartments of 
the queen, and, as a matter of course, was at once admitted. 
Isabella heard his representations with mortification and regret, 
for she had begun to set her heart on the sailing of this extra- 
ordinary expedition. But the influence of the archbishop was 



120 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

very great, for his royal penitent knew the sincerity and devot- 
edness of his heart. 

" This carrieth presumption to insolence, Senora," continued 
the irritated churchman ; " have we not here a mendicant adven- 
turer demanding honors and authority that belong only to God 
and his anointed, the princes of the earth? Who is this 
Colon ? — a nameless Genoese, without rank, services, or mod- 
esty, and yet doth he carry his pretensions to a height that 
might cause even a Guzman to hesitate.' ' 

"He is a good Christian, holy prelate," Isabella meekly an- 
swered, " and seemeth to delight in the service and glory of 
God, and to wish to favor the extension of his visible and 
Catholic church." 

" True, Senora, and yet may there be deceit in this" — 

" Nay, Lord Archbishop, I do not think that deceit is the 
man's failing, for franker speech and more manly bearing it is 
not usual to see, even in the most powerful. He hath solicited 
us for years, and yet no act of meanness may be fairly laid to 
his charge." 

" I shall not judge the heart of this man harshly, Dona Isa- 
bella, but we may judge of his actions and his pretensions, and 
how far they may be suitable to the dignity of the two crowns, 
freely and without censure. I confess him grave, and plausible, 
and light of neither discourse nor manner, virtues certainly, as 
the world moveth in courts" — Isabella smiled, but she said 
nothing, for her ghostly counsellor was wont to rebuke with 
freedom, and she to listen with humility — " where the age is 
not exhibiting its purest models of sobriety of thought and de- 
votion, but even these may exist without the spirit that shall be 
fitted for heaven. But what are gravity and decorum, if sus- 
tained by an inflated pride and inordinate rapacity ? ambition 
being a term too lofty for such a craving. Reflect, Senora, on 
the full nature of these demands. This Colon requireth to be 
established, forever, in the high state of a substitute for a king, 
not only for his own person, but for those of his descendants 
throughout all time, with the title and authority of Admira. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 121 

over all adjacent seas, should he discover any of the lands he so 
much exalts, before he will consent to enter into the command 
of certain of Your Highnesses' vessels, a station of itself only 
too honorable for one of so little note ! Should his most extrav- 
agant pretensions be realized — and the probabilities are that 
they will entirely fail — his demands would exceed his services ; 
whereas, in the case of failure, the Castilian and Aragonese 
names would be covered with ridicule, and a sore disrespect 
would befal the royal dignity for having been thus duped by an 
adventurer. Much of the glory of this late conquest would be 
tarnished, by a mistake so unfortunate." 

" Daughter-Marchioness," observed the queen, turning toward 
the faithful and long-tried friend who was occupied with her 
needle near her own side — " these conditions of Colon do, truly, 
seem to exceed the bounds of reason." 

" The enterprise also exceedeth all the usual bounds of risks 
and adventures, Senora," was the steady reply of Dona Beatriz, 
as she glanced toward the countenance of Mercedes. " Noble 
efforts deserve noble rewards." 

The eye of Isabella followed the glance of her friend, and it 
remained fixed for some time on the pale, anxious features of 
her favorite's ward. The beautiful girl herself was unconscious 
of the attention she excited ; but one who knew her secret 
might easily detect the intense feeling with which she awaited 
the issue. The opinions of her confessor had seemed so rea- 
sonable, that Isabella was on the point of assenting to the 
report of the commissioners, and of abandoning altogether the 
secret hopes and expectations she had begun to couple with 
the success of the navigator's schemes, when a gentler feeling, 
one that belonged peculiarly to her own feminine heart, inter- 
posed to give the mariner another chance. It is seldom that 
woman is dead to the sympathies connected with the affections, 
and the wishes that sprang from the love of Mercedes de Val- 
verde were the active cause of the decision that the Queen of 
Castile came to at that critical moment. 

"We must be neither harsh nor hasty with this Genoese, 



122 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Lord Archbishop," she said, turning again to the prelate. "He 
hath the virtues of devoutness and fair-dealing, and these are 
qualities that sovereigns learn to prize. His demands no doubt 
have become somewhat exaggerated by long brooding, in his 
thoughts, on a favorite and great scheme ; but kind words and 
reason may yet lead him to more moderation. Let him, then, 
be tried with propositions of our own, and doubtless his ne- 
cessities, if not a sense of justice, will cause him to accept them. 
The viceroyalty doth, indeed, exceed the usual policy of princes, 
and, as you say, holy prelate, the tenth is the church's share ; 
but the admiral's rank may be fairly claimed. Meet him, then, 
with these moderated proposals, and substitute a fifteenth for a 
tenth ; let him be a viceroy in his own person, during the pleas- 
ure of Don Fernando and myself, but let him relinquish the 
claim for his posterity." 

* Fernando de Talavera thought even these concessions too 
considerable, but, while he exercised his sacred office with a 
high authority, he too well knew the character of Isabella to 
presume to dispute an order she had once issued, although it 
was in her own mild and feminine manner. After receiving a 
few more instructions, therefore, and obtaining the counsel of 
the king, who was at work in an adjoining cabinet, the prelate 
went to execute this new commission. 

Two or three days now passed before the subject was finally 
disposed of, and Isabella was again seated in the domestic 
circle, when admission was once more demanded in behalf of 
her confessor. The archbishop entered with a flushed face, 
and his whole appearance was so disturbed that it must have 
been observed by the most indifferent person. 

"How now, holy archbishop," — demanded Isabella — " doth 
thy new flock vox thy spirit, and is it so very hard to deal with 
an infidel VI 

u 'Tis naught of that, Sefiora — 'tis naught relating to my 
new people. I find even the followers of the false prophet more 
reasonable than some who exult in Christ's name and favor. 
This Colon is a madman, and better fitted to become a saint 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 123 

in Mussulmans' eyes, than even a pilot in Your Highness' 
service." 

At this burst of indignation, the queen, the Marchioness of 
Moya, and Dona Mercedes de Valverde, simultaneously dropped 
their needle-work, and sat looking at the prelate, with a com- 
mon concern. They had all hoped that the difficulties which 
stood in the way of a favorable termination to the negotiation 
would be removed, and that the time was at hand, when the 
being who, in spite of the boldness and unusual character of his 
projects, had succeeded in so signally commanding their res- 
pect, and in interesting their feelings, was about to depart, and 
to furnish a practical solution to problems that had as much 
puzzled their reasons as they had excited their curiosity. But 
here was something like a sudden and unlooked-for termination 
to all their expectations ; and while Mercedes felt something 
like despair chilling her heart, the queen and Doiia Beatriz were 
both displeased. 

" Didst thou du]y explain to Senor Colon, the nature of our 
proposals, Lord Archbishop?" the former asked, with more 
severity of manner than she was accustomed to betray ; ' i and 
doth he still insist on the pretensions to a vice-regal power, and 
on the offensive condition in behalf of his posterity ?" 

" Even so, Your Highness ; were it Isabella of Castile treat- 
ing with Henry of England or Louis of France, the starving 
Genoese could not hold higher terms or more inflexible condi- 
tions. He abateth nothing. The man deemeth himself chosen 
of God, to answer certain ends, and his language and conditions 
are such as one who felt a holy impulse to his course, could 
scarcely feel warranted in assuming." 

" This constancy hath its merit," observed the queen ; " but 
there is a limit to concession. I shall urge no more in the 
navigator's favor, but leave him to the fortune that naturally 
followeth self- exaltation and all extravagance of demand." 

This speech apparently sealed the fate of Columbus in Castile. 
The archbishop was appeased, and, first holding a short private 
conference with his royal penitent, he left the room. Shortly 



124 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



after, Christoval Colon, as lie was called by the Spaniards — 
Columbus, as lie styled himself in later life — received, for a 
definite answer, the information that his conditions were re- 
jected, and that the negotiation for the projected voyage to the 
Indies was finally at an end. 




UIRCSI'fiS OF CASTILE. 12* 



CHAPTER VIII. 

" Oh ! ever thus, from childhood's hour, 
I've seen my fondest hopes decay ; 
I never loved a tree or flower, 
But 5 t was the first to fade away." 

Lalla Hookii. 

The season had now advanced to the first days of February, 
and, in that low latitude, the weather was becoming genial and 
spring-like. On the morning succeeding that of the interview 
just related, some six or eight individuals, attracted by the 
loveliness of the day, and induced morally by a higher motive, 
were assembled before the door of one of those low dwellings 
of Santa Fe that had been erected for the accommodation of 
the conquering army. Most of these persons were grave Span- 
iards of a certain age, though young Luis de Bobadilla was also 
there, and the tall, dignified form of Columbus was in the group. 
The latter was equipped for the road, and a stout, serviceable 
Andalusian mule stood ready to receive its burden, near at hand. 
A charger was by the side of the mule, showing that the rider 
of the last was about to have company. Among the Spaniards 
were Alonzo de Quintanilla, the accountant-general of Castile, a 
firm friend of the navigator, and Luis de St. Angel, the receiver 
of the ecclesiastical revenues of Aragon, who was one of the 
firmest converts that Columbus had made to the philosophical 
accuracy of his opinions and to the truth of his vast concep- 
tions. 

The two last had been in earnest discourse with the naviga- 
tor, but the discussion had closed, and Senor de St. Angel, a 
man of generous feelings and ardent imagination, was just ex- 
pressing himself warmly, in the following words-^ 



120 MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 

"By the lustre of the two crowns !" he cried, "this ought 
not to come to pass. But, adieu, Senor Colon — God have you 
in his holy keeping, and send you wiser and less prejudiced 
judges, hereafter. -The past can only cause us shame and grief, 
while the future is in the womb of time." 

The whole party, with the exception of Luis de Bobadilla, 
then took their leave. As soon as the place was clear, Colum- 
bus mounted, and passed through the thronged streets, attended 
by the young noble on his charger. Not a syllable was uttered 
by either, until they were fairly on the plain, though Columbus 
often sighed like a man oppressed with grief. Still, his mien 
was calm, his bearing dignified, and his eye lighted with that 
unquenchable fire which finds its fuel in the soul within. 

When fairly without the gates, Columbus turned courteously 
to his young companion and thanked him for his escort ; but, 
with a consideration for the other that was creditable to his 
heart, he added — 

"While I am so grateful for this honor, coming from one 
so noble and full of hopes, I must not forget your own charac- 
ter. Didst thou not remark, friend Luis, as we passed through 
the streets, that divers Spaniards pointed at me, as the object 
of scorn?" 

"I did, Senor," answered Luis, his cheek glowing with indig- 
nation, " and had it not been that I dreaded your displeasure, 
I would have trodden the vagabonds beneath my horse's feet, 
failing of a lance to spit them on !" 

" Thou hast acted most wisely in showing forbearance. But 
these are men, and their common judgment maketh public 
opinion ; nor do I perceive that the birth, or the opportunities, 
causeth material distinctions between them, though the manner 
of expression vary. There are vulgar among the noble, and noble 
among the lowly. This very act of kindness of thine, will find 
its deriders and contemners in the court of the two sovereigns." 

"Let him look to it, who presumeth to speak lightly of you, 
Senor, to Luis de Bobadilla ! We are not a patient race, and 
Castilian blood is apt to be hot blood." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 127 

" I should be sorry that any man but myself should draw in 
my quarrel. But, if we take offence at all who think and speak 
folly, we may pass our days in harness. Let the young nobles 
have their jest, if it give them pleasure — but do not let me 
regret my friendship for thee." 

Luis promised fairly, and then, as if his truant thoughts 
would revert to the subject unbidden, he hastily resumed — 

" You speak of the noble as of a class different from your 
own — surely, Sefior Colon, thou art noble ?" 

" Would it make aught different in thy opinions and feelings, 
young man, were I to answer no ?" 

The cheek of Don Luis flushed, and, for an instant, he re- 
pented of his remark ; but falling back on his own frank and 
generous nature, he answered immediately, without reservation 
or duplicity — 

' ' By San Pedro, my new patron ! I could wish you were 
noble, Seiior, if it were merely for the honor of the class. There 
are so many among us who do no credit to their spurs, that 
we might gladly receive such an acquisition." 

" This world is made up of changes, young Seiior," returned 
Columbus, smiling. " The seasons undergo their changes ; 
night follows day ; comets come and go ; monarchs become 
subjects, and subjects monarchs ; nobles lose the knowledge of 
their descent, and plebeians rise to the rank of nobles. There 
is a tradition among us, that we were formerly of the privileged 
class ; but time and our unlucky fortune have brought us down 
to humble employments. Am I to lose the honor of Don Luis 
de Bobadilla's company in the great voyage, should I be more 
fortunate in France than I have been in Castile, because his com- 
mander happeneth to have lost the evidences of his nobility ?* 

"That would be a most unworthy motive, Seiior, and I 
hasten to correct your mistake. As we are now about to part 
for some time, I ask permission to lay bare my whole soul to 
you. I confess that when first I heard of this voyage, it struck 
me as a madman's scheme" — 

"Ah ! friend Luis," interrupted Columbus, with a melancholy 



128 MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 

shake of the head, " this is the opinion of but too many ! I 
fear Don Ferdinand of Aragon, as well as that stern prelate, his 
namesake, who hath lately disposed of the question, thinketh 
in the same manner." 

" I crave your pardon, Senor Colon, if I have uttered aught 
to give you pain ; but if I have once done you injustice, I am 
ready enough to expiate the wrong, as you will quickly see. 
Thinking thus, I entered into discourse with you, with a view 
to amuse myself with fancied ravings ; but, though no imme- 
diate change of opinion followed as to the truth of the theory, 
I soon perceived that a great philosopher and profound reasoner 
had the matter in hand. Here my judgment might have rested, 
and my opinion been satisfied, but for a circumstance of deep 
moment to myself. You must know, Senor, though come of 
the oldest blood of Spain, and not without fair possessions, that 
I may not always have answered the hopes of those who have 
been charged with the care of my youth" — 

"This is unnecessary, noble sir" — 

"Nay, by St. Luke ! it shall be said. Now, I have two 
great and engrossing passions, that sometimes interfere with 
each other. The one is a love for rambling — a burning desire 
to see foreign lands, and this, too, in a free and roving fashion 
— with a disposition for the sea and the doings of havens ; and 
the other is a love for Mercedes de Valverde, the fairest, gen- 
tlest, most affectionate, warmest-hearted, and truest maiden of 
Castile!" 

"JSToble, withal," put in Columbus, smiling. 

" Senor," answered Luis, gravely, " I jest not concerning my 
guardian angel. She is not only noble, and every way fitted 
to honor my name, but she hath the blood of the Guzmans, 
themselves, in her veins. But I have lost favor with others, 
if not with my lovely mistress, in yielding to this rambling 
inclination ; and even my own aunt, who is her guardian, hath 
not looked smilingly on my suit. Dona Isabella, whose word 
is law among all the noble virgins of the court, hath also her 
prejudices, and it hath become necessary to regain her good 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 129 

opinion, to win the Dona Mercedes. It struck nie" — Luis was 
too manly to betray his mistress by confessing that the thought 
was hers — " it struck me, that if my rambling tastes took the 
direction of some noble enterprise, like this you urge, that what 
hath been a demerit might be deemed a merit in the royal eyes, 
which would be certain soon to draw all other eyes after them. 
With this hope, then, I first entered into the present intercourse, 
until the force of your arguments hath completed my conver- 
sion, and now no churchman hath more faith in the head of his 
religion, than I have that the shortest road to Cathay is athwart 
the broad Atlantic ; or no Lombard is more persuaded that his 
Lombardy is flat, than I feel convinced that this good earth of 
ours is a sphere." 

"Speak reverently of the ministers of the altar, young 
Senor," said Columbus, crossing himself, " for no levity should 
be used in connection with their holy office. It seemeth, then," 
he added, smiling, "I owe my disciple to the two potent agents 
of love and reason ; the former, as most potent, overcoming the 
first obstacles, and the latter getting uppermost at the close of 
the affair, as is wont to happen — love, generally, triumphing in 
the onset, and reason, last." 

"I'll not deny the potency of the power, Seiior, for I feel it 
too deeply to rebel against it. You now know my secret, and 
when I have made you acquainted with my intentions, all wiF 
be laid bare. I here solemnly vow" — Don Luis lifted his caj 
and looked to heaven, as he spoke — "to join you in this voyage 
on due notice, sail from whence you may, in whatever bark you 
shall choose, and whenever you please. In doing this, I trust, 
first to serve God and his church ; secondly, to visit Cathay 
and those distant and wonderful lands; and lastly, to win Dona 
Mercedes de Valverde." 

f* I accept the pledge, young sir," rejoined Columbus, struck 
by his earnestness, and pleased with his sincerity — " though it 
might have been a more faithful representation of your thoughts 
had the order of the motives been reversed." 

"In a few months I shall be master of my own means,' 



130 M t n C E U E S OF CASTILE. 

continued the youth, too intent on his own purposes to heed 
what the navigator had said — " and then, nothing but the 
solemn command of Dona Isabella, herself, shall prevent out 
having one caravel, at least ; and the coffers of Bobadilla must 
have been foully dealt by, during their master's childhood, if 
they do not afford two. I am no subject of Don Fernando' s, 
but a servant of the elder branch of the House of Trastamara ; 
and the cold judgment of the king, even, shall not prevent it." 

u This soundeth generously, and thy sentiments are such as 
become a youthful and enterprising noble ; but the offer cannot 
be accepted. It would not become Columbus to use gold that 
came from so confiding a spirit and so inexperienced a head ; 
and there are still greater obstacles than this. My enterprise 
must rest on the support of some powerful prince. Even the 
Guzman hath not deemed himself of sufficient authority to up- 
hold a scheme so large. Did we make the discoveries without 
that sanction, we should be toiling for others, without security 
for ourselves, since the Portuguese or some other monarch 
would wrong us of our reward. That I am destined to effect 
this great work, I feel, and it must be done in a manner suited 
to the majesty of the thought and to the magnitude of the sub- 
ject. And, here, Don Luis, we must part. Should my suit 
be successful at the court of France, thou shalt hear from me, 
for I ask no better than to be sustained by hearts and hands 
like thine. Still, thou must not mar thy fortunes unheedingly, 
and I am now a fallen man in Castile. It may not serve thee a 
good turn, to be known to frequent my company any longer — 
and I again say, here we must part." 

Luis de Bobadilla protested his indifference to what others 
might think ; but the more experienced Columbus, who rose so 
high above popular clamor in matters that affected himself, felt 
a generous reluctance to permit this confiding youth to sacrifice 
his hopes, to any friendly impressions in his own favor. The 
leave-taking was warm, and the navigator felt a glow at his 
heart, as he witnessed the sincere and honest emotions that the 
young man could not repress at parting. They separated, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 131 

however, about half a league from the town, and each bent his 
way in his own direction ; Don Luis de Bobadilla's heart swel- 
ling with indignation at the unworthy treatment that there was, 
in sooth, so much reason for thinking his new friend had re- 
ceived. 

Columbus journeyed on, with very different emotions. Seven 
weary years had he been soliciting the monarchs and nobles of 
Spain to aid him in his enterprise. In that long period, how 
much of poverty, contempt, ridicule, and even odium, had he 
not patiently encountered, rather than abandon the slight hold 
that he had obtained on a few of the more liberal and enlight- 
ened minds of the nation ! He had toiled for bread while 
soliciting the great to aid themselves in becoming still more 
powerful ; and each ray of hope, however feeble, had been 
eagerly caught at with joy, each disappointment borne with a 
constancy that none but the most exalted spirit could sustain. 
But he was now required to endure the most grievous of all his 
pains. The recall of Isabella had awakened within him a confi- 
dence to which he had long been a stranger ; and he awaited 
the termination of the siege with the calm dignity that became 
his purpose, no less than his lofty philosophy. The hour of 
leisure had come, and it produced a fatal destruction to all his 
buoyant hopes. He had thought his motives understood, his 
character appreciated, and his high objects felt; but he now 
found himself still regarded as a visionary projector, his inten- 
tions distrusted, and his promised services despised. In a word, 
the bright expectations that had cheered his toil for years, had 
vanished in a day, and the disappointment was all the greater 
for the brief, but delusive hopes produced by his recent favor. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that, when left alone on the 
highway, even the spirit of this extraordinary man grew faint 
within him, and he had to look to the highest power for succor. 
His head dropped upon his breast, and one of those bitter mo- 
ments occurred, in which the past and the future crowd the 
mind, painfully as to sufferings endured, cheerlessly as to hope. 
The time wasted in Spain seemed a blot in his existence, and 



132 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

then came the probability of another long and exhausting pro- 
bation, that, like this, might lead to nothing. He had already 
reached the lustrum that would fill his threescore years, and life 
seemed slipping from beneath him, while its great object re- 
mained unachieved. Still the high resolution of the man sus- 
tained him. Not once did he think of a compromise of what 
he felt to be his rights — not once did he doubt of the practica- 
bility of accomplishing the great enterprise that others derided. 
His heart was full of courage, even while his bosom was full of 
grief. " There is a wise, a merciful, and omnipotent God!" 
he exclaimed, raising his eyes to heaven. " He knoweth what 
is meet for his own glory, and in him do I put my trust." 
There was a pause, and the eyes kindled, while a scarcely per- 
ceptible smile lighted the grave face, and then were murmured 
the words — " Yea, he taketh his time, but the Infidel shall be 
enlightened, and the blessed sepulchre redeemed !" 

After this burst of feeling, the grave-looking man, whose 
hairs had already become whitened to the color of snow, by 
cares, and toils, and exposures, pursued his way, with the quiet 
dignity of one who believed that he was not created for naught, 
and who trusted in God for the fulfilment of his destiny. If 
quivering sighs occasionally broke out of his breast, they did 
not disturb the placidity of his venerable countenance ; if grief 
and disappointment still lay heavy on his heart, they rested on 
a base that was able to support them. Leaving Columbus to 
follow the common mule-track across the Vega, we will now re- 
turn to Santa Fe, where Ferdinand and Isabella had re-estab- 
lished their court, after the few first days that succeeded the 
possession of their new conquest. 

Luis de St. Angel was a man of ardent feelings and generous 
impulses. He was one of those few spirits who live in advance 
of their age, and who permitted his reason to be enlightened 
and cheered by his imagination, though it was never dazzled by 
it. As he and his friend Alonzo de Quintanilla, after quitting 
Columbus as already related, walked toward the royal pavillion, 
they conversed freely together concerning tne man, his vast 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 133 

conceptions, the treatment he had received, and the shame that 
wonld alight on Spain in consequence, were he suffered thus to 
depart forever. Blunt of speech, the receiver of the ecclesiasti- 
cal revenues clid not measure his terms, every syllable of which 
found an echo in the heart of the accountant-general, who was 
an old and fast friend of the navigator. In short, by the time 
they reached the pavilion, they had come to the resolution to 
make one manly effort to induce the queen to yield to Colum- 
bus' terms and to recal him to her presence, 

Isabella was always easy of access to such of her servants as 
she knew to be honest and zealous. The age was one of for- 
mality, and, in many respects, of exaggeration, while the court 
was renowned for ceremony ; but the pure spirit of the queen 
threw a truth and a natural grace around all that depended on 
her, which rendered mere forms, except as they were connected 
with delicacy and propriety, useless, and indeed impracticable. 
Both the applicants for the interview enjoyed her favor, and 
the request was granted with that simple directness that this 
estimable woman loved to manifest, whenever she thought she 
was about to oblige any whom she esteemed. 

The queen was surrounded by the few ladies among whom 
she lived in private, as Luis de St. Angel and Alonzo de Quin- 
tanilla entered. Among them, of course, were the Marchioness 
of Moya and Dona Mercedes de Valverde. The king, on this 
occasion, was in an adjoining closet, at work, as usual, with his 
calculations and orders. Official labor was Ferdinand's relax- 
ation, and he seldom manifested more happiness than when 
clearing off a press of affairs that most men would have found 
to the last degree burdensome. He was a hero in the saddle, 
a warrior at the head of armies, a sage in council, and respect- 
able, if not great, in all things but motives. 

" What has brought the Seiior St. Angel and the Senor 
Quintanilla, as suitors, so early to my presence ?" asked Isabella, 
smiling in a way to assure both that the boon would be asked 
of a partial mistress. " Ye are not wont to be beggars, and the 
bour is somewhat unusual." 



J 3 1 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Ail hours are suitable, gracious lady, when one cometh to 
confer and not to seek favor," returned Luis de St. Angel, 
bluntly. " We are not here to solicit for ourselves, but to show 
Your Highness the manner in which the crown of Castile may 
be garnished with brighter jewels than any it now possesseth." 

Isabella looked surprised, both at the words of the speaker, 
and at his hurried earnestness, as well as his freedom of speech. 
Accustomed, however, to something of the last, her own calm 
manner was not disturbed, nor did she even seem displeased. 

"Hath the Moor another kingdom of which to be despoiled," 
she asked; "or would the receiver of the church's revenues 
have us war upon the Holy See ?" 

"I would have Your Highness accept the boons that come 
from God, with alacrity and gratitude, and not reject them 
unthankfully," returned de St. Angel, kissing the queen's 
offered hand with a respect and affection that neutralized the 
freedom of his words. "Do you know, my gracious mistress, 
that the Senor Christoval Colon, he from whose high projects 
we Spaniards have hoped so much, hath actually taken mule 
and quitted Santa Fe ?" 

"I expected as much, Senor, though I was not apprized 
that it had actually come to pass. The king and I put the 
matter into the hands of the Archbishop of Granada, with other 
trusty counsellors, and they have found the terms of the 
Genoese arrogant; so full of exceeding and unreasonable ex- 
travagance, that it ill befitted our dignity, and our duty to our- 
selves, to grant them. One who hath a scheme of such doubt- 
ful results, ought to manifest moderation in his preliminaries. 
Many even believe the man a visionary." 

"It is unlike an unworthy pretender, Seiiora, to abandon his 
hopes before he will yield his dignity. This Colon feeleth that 
he is treating for empires, and he negotiates like one full of the 
importance of his subject." 

"He that lightly valueth himself, in matters of gravity, hath 
need to expect that he will not stand high in the estimation of 
others," put in Alonzo de Quintanilla. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 135 

i* And, moreover, my gracious and beloved mistress," added 
de St. Angel, without permitting Isabella even to answer, "the 
character of the man, and the value of his intentions, may be 
appreciated by the price he setteth on his own services. If 
he succeed, will not the discovery eclipse all others that have 
been made since the creation of the world ? Is it nothing to 
circle the earth, to prove the wisdom of God by actual experi- 
ment, to follow the sun in its daily track, and imitate the mo- 
tions of that glorious moving mass ? And then the benefits that 
will flow on Castile and Aragon — are they not incalculab 1 ^ ? I 
marvel that a princess who hath shown so high and rare a spirit 
on all other occasions, should shrink from so grand an enter- 
prise as this P J 

"Thou art earnest, my good de St. Angel," returned Isa- 
bella, with a smile that betrayed no anger; " and when there is 
much earnestness there is sometimes much forgetfulness. If 
there were honor and profit in success, what would there be in 
failure ? Should the king and myself send out this Colon, with 
a commission to be our viceroy, forever, over undiscovered 
lands, and no lands be discovered, the wisdom of our councils 
might be called in question, and the dignity of the two crowns 
would be fruitlessly and yet deeply committed." 

" The hand of the Lord Archbishop is in this ! This prelate 
hath never been a "believer in the justice of the navigator's 
theories, and it is easy to raise objections when the feelings 
lean against an enterprise. No glory is obtained without risk. 
Look, Your Highness, at our neighbors, the Portuguese — how 
much have discoveries done for that kingdom, and how much 
more may it do for us ! We know, my honored mistress, that 
the earth is round" — 

" Are we quite certain of that important fact, Senor," asked 
the king, who, attracted by the animated and unusual tones of 
the speaker, had left his closet, and approached unseen. " Is 
that truth established ? Our doctors at Salamanca were divided 
on that great question, and, by St. James ! I do not see that it 
is so very clear." 



136 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" If not round, my Lord the King," answered de St. Angel, 
turning quickly to face this new opponent, like a well-drilled 
corps wheeling into a new front, " of what form can it be? 
Will any doctor, come he of Salamanca, or come he from else- 
where, pretend that the earth is a plain, and that it hath limits, 
and that one may stand on these limits and jump down upon 
the sun as he passeth beneath at night — is this reasonable, hon- 
ored Senor, or is it in conformity with scripture ?" 

" Will any one, doctor of Salamanca, or elsewhere," rejoined 
the king, gravely, though it was evident his feelings were lit- 
tle interested in the discussion, " allege that there are nations 
who forever walk with their heads downward, where the rain 
falleth upward, and where the sea remaineth in its bed, though 
its support cometh from above, and is not placed beneath V 

" It is to explain these great mysteries, Senor Don Fernando, 
my gracious master, that I would have this Colon at once go 
forth. We may see, nay, we have demonstration, that the 
earth is a sphere, and yet we do not see that the waters fall 
from its surface any where. The hull of a ship is larger than 
her top-masts, and yet the last are first visible on the ocean, 
which proveth that the body of the vessel is concealed by the 
form of the water. This being so, and all who have voyaged 
on the ocean know it to be thus, why doth not the water flow 
into a level, here, on our own shores ? If the earth be round, 
there must be means to encircle it by water, as well as by land 
— to complete the entire journey, as well as to perform a part. 
Colon proposeth to open the way to this exploit, and the mon- 
arch that shall furnish the means will live in the memories of 
our descendants, as one far greater than a conqueror. Remem- 
ber, illustrious Senor, that all the east is peopled with Infidels, 
and that the head of the church freely bestow eth their lands on 
any Christian monarch that may drag them from their benight- 
ed condition, into the light of God's favor. Believe me, Doiia 
Isabella, should another sovereign grant the terms Colon re- 
quireth, and reap the advantages that are likely to flow from 
such discoveries, the enemies of Spain would make the world 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 137 

ring with their songs of triumph, while the whole peninsula 
would mourn over this unhappy decision." 

" Whither hath the Sefior Colon sped ?" demanded the king, 
quickly; all his political jealousies being momentarily aroused 
by the remarks of his receiver-general : " He hath not gone 
again to Don John of Portugal V 

"No, Sefior, my master, but to King Louis of France, a 
sovereign whose love for Aragon amounteth to a proverb." 

The king muttered a few words between his teeth, and he 
paced the apartment, to and fro, with a disturbed manner ; for, 
while no man living cared less to hazard his means, without 
the prospect of a certain return, the idea of another's reaping 
an advantage that had been neglected by himself, brought him 
at once under the control of those feelings that always influenced 
his cold and calculating policy. With Isabella the case was 
different. Her pious wishes had ever leaned toward the ac- 
complishment of Columbus' 1 great project, and her generous 
nature had sympathized deeply with the noble conception, vast 
moral results, and the glory of the enterprise. Nothing but 
the manner in which her mind, as well as her religious aspira- 
tions, had been occupied by the war in Granada, had prevented 
her from entering earlier into a full examination of the naviga- 
tor's views ; and she had yielded to the counsel of her con- 
fessor, in denying the terms demanded by Columbus, with a 
reluctance it had not been easy to overcome. Then the gentler 
feelings of her sex had their influence, for, while she too re- 
flected on what had just been urged, her eye glanced around 
the room and rested on the beautiful face of Mercedes, who 
sat silent from diffidence, but whose pale, eloquent countenance 
betrayed all the pleadings of the pure, enthusiastic love of 
woman. 

" Daughter-Marchioness," asked the queen, turning as usual 
'o her tried friend, in her doubts, " what thinkest thou of this 
weighty matter ? Ought we so to humble ourselves as to recal 
this haughty Genoese?" 

" Say not haughty, Senora, for to me he seemeth much supe- 



l38 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. - 

rior to any such feeling ; but rather regard him as one that hath 
a just appreciation of that he hath in view. I agree fully with 
the receiver-general in thinking that Castile will be much dis- 
credited, if, in sooth, a new world should be discovered, and 
they who favored the enterprise could point to this court and 
remind it that the glory of the event was in its grasp, and that 
it threw it away, heedlessly" — 

" And this, too, on a mere point of dignity, Seiiora," put in 
St. Angel — "on a question of parchment and of sound." 

" Nay, nay" — retorted the queen — "there are those who 
think the honors claimed by Colon would far exceed the service, 
even should the latter equal all the representations of the Geno- 
ese himself." 

" Then, my honored mistress, they know not at \what the 
Genoese aims. Beflect, Seiiora, that it will not be an every-day 
deed to prove that this earth is a sphere, by actual measure- 
ment, whatever we may know in theories. Then cometh the 
wealth and benefits of those eastern possessions, a quarter of th.£ 
world whence all riches flow — spices, pearls, silks, and the 
most precious metals. After these, again, cometh the great 
glory of God, which crowneth and exceedeth all." 

Isabella crossed herself, her cheek flushed, her eye kindled, 
and her matronly but fine form seemed to tower with the maj- 
esty of the feelings that these pictures created. 

" I do fear, Don Fernando," she said, " that our advisers have 
been precipitate, and that the magnitude of this project may 
justify more than common conditions !" 

But the king entered little into the generous emotions of his 
royal consort; feeling far more keenly the stings of political 
jealousy, than any promptings of a liberal zeal for either the 
church or science. He was generally esteemed a wise prince, 
a title that would seem to infer neither a generous nor a very 
just one. He smiled at the kindling enthusiasm of his wife, 
but continued to peruse a paper that had just been handed to 
him by a secretary. 

" Your Highness feels as Dona Isabella of Castile ought to 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 139 

feci when the glory of God and the honor of her crown are in 
question," added Beatriz de Cabrera, using that freedom of 
speech that her royal mistress much encouraged in their more 
private intercourse. " I would rather hear you utter the words 
of recall to this Colon, than again listen to the shouts of our 
late triumph over the Moor." 

" I know that thou lovest me, Beatriz !" exclaimed the queen: 
"if there is not a true heart in that breast of thine, the fallen 
condition of man does not suffer the gem to exist !" 

"We all love and reverence Your Highness," continued de 
St. Angel, "and we wish naught but your glory. Fancy, 
Senora, the page of history open, and this great exploit of the 
reduction of the Moor succeeded by the still greater deed of a 
discovery of an easy and swift communication with the Indies, 
the spread of the church, and the flow of inexhaustible wealth 
into Spain ! This Colon cannot be supported by the colder and 
more selfish calculations of man, but his very enterprise seeks 
the more generous support of her who can risk much for God's 
glory and the good of the church." 

" Nay, Senor de St. Angel, thou flatterest and offendest in 
the same breath." 

"It is an honest nature pouring out its disappointment, my 
beloved mistress, and a tongue that hath become bold through 
much zeal for Your Highnesses' fame. Alas ! alas ! should 
King Louis grant the terms we have declined, poor Spain will 
never lift her head again for very shame !" 

"Art certain, St. Angel, that the Genoese hath gone for 
France ?" suddenly demanded the king, in his sharp, authorita- 
tive voice. 

"I have it, Your Highness, from his own mouth. Yes, yes, 
he is at this moment striving to forget our Castilian dialect, and 
endeavoring to suit his tongue to the language of the French- 
man. They are bigots and unreflecting disciples of musty 
prejudices, Senora, that deny the theories of Colon. The old 
philosophers have reasoned in the same manner ; and though it 
may seem to the timid an audacious and even a heedless ad- 



140 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

venture to sail out into the broad Atlantic, had not the Portu- 
guese done it he would never have found his islands. God's 
truth ! it maketh my blood boil, when I bethink me of what 
these Lusitanians have done, while we of Aragon and Cas- 
tile have been tilting with the Infidels for a few valleys and 
mountains, and contending for a capital !" 

" Senor, you are forgetful of the honor of the sovereigns, as 
well as of the service of God," interrupted the Marchioness of 
Moya, who had the tact to perceive that the receiver-general 
was losing sight of his discretion, in the magnitude of his zeal. 
" This conquest is one of the victories of the church, and will add 
lustre to the two crowns in all future ages. The head of the 
church, himself, hath so recognized it, and all good Christians 
should acknowledge its character." 

" It is not that I undervalue this success, but that I consider 
the conquest that Colon is likely to achieve over so many mill- 
ions, that I have thus spoken, Dona Beatriz." 

The marchioness, whose spirit was as marked as her love 
for the queen, made a sharp reply, and, for a few minutes, she 
and Luis de St. Angel, with Alonzo de Quintanilla, maintained 
the discussion by themselves, while Isabella conversed apart, 
with her husband, no one presuming to meddle with their pri- 
vate conference. The queen was earnest, and evidently much 
excited, but Ferdinand maintained his customary coolness and 
caution, though his manner was marked with that profound 
respect which the character of Isabella had early inspired, and 
which she succeeded in maintaining throughout her married life. 
This was a picture familiar to the courtiers, one of the sover- 
eigns being as remarkable for his wily prudence, as was the 
other for her generous and sincere ardor, whenever impelled by 
a good motive. This divided discourse lasted half an hour, the 
queen occasionally pausing to listen to what was passing in the 
other group, and then recurring to her own arguments with 
her husband. 

At length Isabella left the side of Ferdinand, who coldly re- 
sumed the perusal of a paper, and she moved slowly toward the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 141 

excited party, that was new unanimous and rather loud in the 
expression of its regrets — loud for even the indulgence of so 
gentle a mistress. Her intention to repress this ardor by her 
own presence, however, was momentarily diverted from its ob- 
ject by a glimpse of the face of Mercedes, who sat alone, hei 
work lying neglected in her lap, listening anxiously to the opin- 
ions that had drawn all her companions to the general circle. 

" Thou takest no part in this warm discussion, child," ob- 
served the queen, stopping before the chair of our heroine, 
and gazing an instant into her eloquently expressive face. 
" Hast thou lost all interest in Colon ?" 

"I speak not, Senora, because it becometh youth and igno- 
rance to be modest; but though silent, I feel none the less." 

" And what are thy feelings, daughter? Dost thou, too, 
think the services of the Genoese cannot be bought at too high 
a price V 

" Since Your Highness doth me this honor," answered the 
lovely girl, the blood gradually flushing her pale face, as she 
warmed with the subject — " I will not hesitate to speak. I do 
believe this great enterprise hath been offered to the sovereigns, 
as a reward for all that they have done and endured for religion 
and the church. I do think that Colon hath been guided to 
this court by a divine hand, and by a divine hand hath he 
been kept here, enduring the long servitude of seven years, 
rather than abandon his object; and I do think that this late 
appeal in his favor cometh of a power and spirit that should 
prevail." 

"Thou art an enthusiast, daughter, more especially in this 
cause," returned the queen, smiling kindly on the blushing 
Mercedes. " I am greatly moved by thy wishes to aid in this 
enterprise !" 

Thus spoke Isabella, at a moment when she had neither the 
leisure nor the thought to analyze her own feelings, which were 
influenced by a variety of motives, rather than by any single 
consideration. Even this passing touch of woman's affections, 
however, contributed to give her mind a new bias, and she 



142 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

joined the group, which respectfully opened as she advanced, 
greatly disposed to yield to de St. Angel's well-meant though 
somewhat intemperate entreaties. Still she hesitated, for her 
wary husband had just been reminding her of the exhausted 
state of the two treasuries, and the impoverished condition in 
which both crowns had been left by the late war. 

" Daughter-Marchioness," said Isabella, slightly answering 
the reverences of the circle, "dost thou still think this Colon 
expressly called of God, for the high purposes to which he pre- 
tendeth «" 

" Senora, I say not exactly that, though I believe the Geno- 
ese hath some such opinion of himself. But this much I do 
think — that Heaven beareth in mind its faithful servitors, and 
when there is need of important actions, suitable agents are 
chosen for the work. Now, we do know tihat the church, at 
some day, is to prevail throughout the whole world ; and why 
may not this be the allotted time, as well as another ? God 
ordereth mysteriously, and the very adventure that so many of 
the learned have scoffed at, may be intended to hasten the 
victory of the church. We should remember, Your Highness, 
the humility with which this church commenced ; how few of 
the seemingly wise lent it their aid ; and the high pass of 
glory to which it hath reached. This conquest of the Moor 
savoreth of a fulfilment of time, and his reign of seven cen- 
turies terminated, may merely be an opening for a more glorious 
future." 

Isabella smiled upon her friend, for this was reasoning after 
her own secret thoughts ; but her greater acquirements rendered 
her more discriminating in her zeal, than was the case with the 
warm-hearted and ardent Marchioness. 

"It is not safe to affix the seal of Providence to this or that 
enterprise, Daughter-Marchioness" — she answered — " and the 
church alone may say what are intended for miracles, and what 
is left for human agencies. What sum doth Colon need, Seiior 
de St. Angel, to carry on the adventure in a manner that will 
content him ?" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 143 

" He asketh but two light caravels, my honored mistress, and 
three thousand crowns — a sum that many a young spendthrift 
would waste on his pleasures, in a few short weeks." 

"It is not much, truly," observed Isabella, who had been 
gradually kindling with the thoughts of the nobleness of the 
adventure ; " but, small as it is, my Lord the King doubteth if 
our joint coffers can, at this moment, well bear the drain." 

"Oh! it were a pity that such an occasion to serve God, 
such an opportunity to increase the Christian sway, and to add 
to the glory of Spain, should be lost for this trifle of gold !" 
exclaimed Dona Beatriz. 

" It would be, truly," rejoined the queen, whose cheek now 
glowed with an enthusiasm little less obvious than that which 
shone so brightly in the countenance of the ardent Mercedes. 
" Senor de St. Angel, the king cannot be prevailed on to enter 
into this affair, in behalf of Aragon ; but I take it on myself, as 
Queen of Castile, and, so far as it may properly advance human 
interests, for the benefit of my own much-beloved people. If 
the royal treasury be drained, my private jewels should suffice 
for that small sum, and I will freely pledge them as surety for 
the gold, rather than let this Colon depart without putting the 
truth of his theories to the proof. The result, truly, is of too 
great magnitude, to admit of further discussion." 

An exclamation of admiration and delight escaped those 
present, for it was not a usual thing for a princess to deprive 
herself of personal ornaments in order to advance either the 
interests of the church or those of her subjects. The receiver- 
general, however, soon removed all difficulties on the score of 
money, by saying that his coffers could advance the required 
sum, on the guarantee of the crown of Castile, and that the 
jewels so freely offered, might remain in the keeping of their 
royal owner. 

"And now to recall Colon," observed the queen, as soon as 
these preliminaries had been discussed. " He hath already de- 
parted, you say, and no time should be lost in acquainting him 
with this new resolution." 



144 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Your Highness hath here a willing courier, and one al- 
ready equipped for the road, in the person of Don Luis de 
Bobadilla," cried Alonzo de Quintanilla, whose eye had been 
drawn to a window by the trampling of a horse's foot; " and 
the man who will more joyfully bear these tidings to the Genoese 
cannot be found in Santa Fe." 

"'Tis scarce a service suited to one of his high station," an- 
swered Isabella, doubtingly; " and yet we should consider 
every moment of delay a wrong to Colon'' — 

" Nay, Senora, spare not my nephew," eagerly interposed 
Dona Beatriz ; "he is only too happy at being employed in 
doing Your Highness' pleasure." 

"Let him, then, be summoned to our presence without another 
instant's delay. I scarce seem to have decided, while the principal 
personage of the great adventure is journeying from the court." 

A page was immediately despatched in quest of the young 
noble, and in a few minutes the footsteps of the latter were 
heard in the antechamber. Luis entered the presence, flushed, 
excited, and with feelings not a little angered, at the com- 
pelled departure of his new friend. He did not fail to impute 
the blame of this occurrence to those who had the power to 
prevent it ; and when his dark, expressive eye met the counte- 
nance of his sovereign, had it been in her power to read its 
meaning, she would have understood that he viewed her as a 
person who had thwarted his hopes on more than one occasion. 
Nevertheless, the influence of Dona Isabella's pure character 
and gentle manners was seldom forgotten by any who were 
permitted to approach her person ; and his address was respect- 
ful, if not warm. 

" It is Your Highness' pleasure to command my pres- 
ence," said the young man, as soon as he made his reverences 
to the queen. 

" I thank you for this promptitude, Don Luis, having some 
need of your services. Can you tell us what hath befel the 
Seiior Christoval Colon, the Genoese navigator, with whom, 
they inform me, you have some intimacy ?" 



ME It CEDES OE CASTILE. 145 

" Forgive me, Seiiora, if auglit unbecoming escape me; but 
a full heart must be opened lest it break. The Genoese is about 
to shake the dust of Spain from his shoes, and, at this moment, 
is on his journey to another court, to proffer those services that 
this should never have rejected." 

" It is plain, Don Luis, that all thy leisure time hath not 
been passed in courts," returned the queen, smiling; "but we 
have now service for thy roving propensities. Mount thy steed, 
and pursue the Senor Colon, with the tidings that his conditions 
will be granted, and a request that he will forthwith return. I 
pledge my royal word, to send him forth on this enterprise, 
with as little delay as the necessary preparations and a suitable 
prudence will allow." 

" Seiiora ! Dona Isabella ! My gracious queen ! Do I hear 
aright V 

" As a sign of the fidelity of thy senses, Don Luis, here is the 
pledge of my hand." 

This was said kindly, and the gracious manner in which the 
hand was offered, brought a gleam of hope to the mind of the 
lover, which it had not felt since he had been apprized that the 
queen's good opinion was necessary to secure his happiness. 
Kneeling respectfully, he kissed the hand of his sovereign, after 
which, without changing his attitude, he desired to know if he 
should that instant depart on the duty she had named. 

" Rise, Don Luis, and lose not a moment to relieve the load- 
ed heart of the Genoese — I might almost say, to relieve ours, 
also ; for, Daughter-Marchioness, since this holy enterprise 
hath broken on my mind with a sudden and almost miraculous 
light, it seemeth that a mountain must lie on my breast until 
the Senor Christoval shall learn the truth !" 

Luis de Bobadilla did not wait a second bidding, but hur- 
ried from the presence, as fast as etiquette would allow, and 
the next minute he was in the saddle. At his appearance, 
Mercedes had shrunk into the recess of a window, where she 
now, luckily, commanded a view of the court. As her loyer 
gained his seat, he caught a glimpse of her form ; and though 



146 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

the spurs were already in his charger's flanks, the rein tighten- 
ed, and the snorting steed was thrown suddenly on his haunches. 
So elastic are the feelings of youth, so deceptive and flattering 
the hopes of those who love, that the glances which were ex- 
changed were those of mutual delight. Neither thought of all 
the desperate chances of the contemplated voyage ; of the 
probability of its want of success ; or of the many motives 
which might still induce the queen to withhold her consent. 
Mercedes awoke first from the short trance that succeeded, for, 
taking the alarm at Luis' indiscreet delay, she motioned him 
hurriedly to proceed. Again the rowels were buried in the 
flanks of the noble animal ; fire flashed beneath his armed 
heels, and, at the next minute, Don Luis de Bobadilla had dis- 
appeared. 

In the mean time Columbus had pursued his melancholy 
journey across the Vega. He travelled slowly, and several 
times, even after his companion had left him, did he check his 
mule, and sit, with his head dropped upon his breast, lost in 
thought, the very picture of woe. The noble resignation that 
he manifested in public, nearly gave way in private, and he felt, 
indeed, how hard his disappointments were to be borne. In 
this desultory manner of travelling he had reached the cele- 
brated pass of the Bridge of Pinos, the scene of many a san- 
guinary combat, when the sound of a horse's hoofs first over- 
took his ear. Turning his head, he recognized Luis de Boba- 
dilla in hot pursuit, with the flanks of his horse dyed in blood, 
and his breast white with foam. 

" Joy ! joy ! a thousand times, joy, Seiior Colon," shouted 
the eager youth, even before he was near enough to be distinct- 
ly heard. " Blessed Maria be praised ! Joy ! Seiior, joy ! and 
naught but joy !" 

"This is unexpected, Don Luis," exclaimed the navigator, 
" What meaneth thy return !" 

Luis now attempted to explain his errand, but eagerness and 
the want of breath rendered his ideas confused and his utterance 
broken and imperfect. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. H 7 

" And why should I return to a hesitating, cold, and unde- 
decided court ?" demanded Columbus. " Have I not wasted 
years in striving to urge it to its own good ? Look at these 
hairs, young Senor, and remember that I have lost a time that 
nearly equals all thy days, in striving uselessly to convince 
the rulers of this peninsula that my project is founded on 
truth." 

" At length you have succeeded. Isabella, the true-hearted 
and never-deceiving Queen of Castile, herself hath awoke to the 
importance of thy scheme, and pledges her royal word to 
favor it." 

" Is this true ? Can this be true, Don Luis ?" 

" I am sent to you express, Senor, to urge your immediate 
return." 

" By whom, young Lord ?" 

" By Dona Isabella, my gracious mistress, through her own 
personal commands." 

" I cannot forego a single condition already offered.' ' 

" It is not expected, Senor. Our excellent and generous mis- 
tress granteth all you ask, and hath nobly offered, as I learn, to 
pledge her private jewels, rather than that the enterprise fail." 

Columbus was deeply touched with this information, and, re- 
moving his cap, he concealed his face with it for a moment, 
as if ashamed to betray the weakness that came over him. 
When he uncovered his face it was radiant with happiness, 
and every doubt appeared to have vanished. Years of suffering 
were forgotten in that moment of joy, and he immediately 
signified his readiness to accompany the youth back to 
Santa Fe. 



118 MERCEDES OF CASTIL] 



CHAPTER IX. 

" How beautiful is genius when combined 
With holiness ! Oh ! how divinely sweet 
The tones of earthly harp, whose cords are touehM 
By the soft hand of Piety, and hung 
Upon Religion's shrine, there vibrating 
With solemn music in the air of God 1" 

John Wilsox. 

Columbus was received by his friends, Luis de St. Angel and 
Alonzo de Quintanilla, with a gratification they found it difficult 
to express. They were loud in their eulogiums on Isabella, and 
added to the assurances of Don Luis, such proofs of the serious- 
ness of the queen's intentions, as to remove all doubts from the 
mind of the navigator. He was then, without further delay, 
conducted to the presence. 

" Senor Colon," said Isabella, as the Genoese advanced and 
knelt at her feet, " you are welcome back again. All our mis- 
understandings are finally removed, and henceforth, I trust that 
we shall act cheerfully and unitedly to produce the same great 
end. Else, Senor, and receive this as a gage of my support 
and friendship. " 

Columbus saluted the offered hand, and arose from his knees. 
At that instant, there was probably no one present whose feel- 
ings were not raised to the buoyancy of hope ; for it was a pe- 
culiarity connected with the origin and execution of this great 
enterprise, that, after having been urged for so long a period, 
amid sneers, and doubts, and ridicule, it was at first adopted 
with something very like enthusiasm. 

" Senora," returned Columbus, whose grave aspect and noble 
mien contributed not a little to the advancement of his views 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 149 

— " Senora, my heart thanks you for this kindness — so wel- 
come because so little hoped for this morning — and God will 
reward it. We have great things in reserve, and I devout- 
ly wish we may all be found equal to our several duties. I 
hope my Lord the King will not withhold from my undertaking 
the light of his gracious countenance." 

" You are a servitor of Castile, Senor Colon, though little is 
attempted for even this kingdom, without the approbation and 
consent of the King of Aragon. Don Fernando hath been gained 
over to our side, though his greater caution and superior 
wisdom have not as easily fallen into the measure, as woman's 
faith and woman's hopes." 

" I ask no higher wisdom, no truer faith than those of Isa- 
bella's," said the navigator, with a grave dignity that rendered 
the compliment so much the more acceptable, by giving it 
every appearance of sincerity. Her known prudence shall turn 
from me the derision of the light-minded and idle, and on her 
royal word I place all my hopes. Henceforth, and I trust for- 
ever, I am Your Highness' subject and servant." 

The queen was deeply impressed with the air of lofty truth 
that elevated the thoughts and manners of the speaker. Hith- 
erto she had seen but little of the navigator, and never before 
under circumstances that enabled her so thoroughly to feel the 
influence of his air and deportment. Columbus had not the 
finish of manner that it is fancied courts only can bestow, and 
which it would be more just to refer to lives devoted to habits 
of pleasing ; but the character of the man shone through the 
exterior, and, in his case, all that artificial training could sup- 
ply fell short of the noble aspect of nature, sustained by high 
aspirations. To a commanding person, and a gravity that was 
heightened by the loftiness of his purposes, Columbus added 
the sober earnestness of a deeply-seated and an all-pervading 
enthusiasm, which threw the grace of truth and probity on 
what he said and did. No quality of his mind was more appa- 
rent than its sense of right, as right was then considered in 
connection with the opinions of the age ; and it is a singular 
7 



150 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

circumstance that the greatest adventure of modern times 
was thus confided by Providence, as it might be with especial 
objects, to the care of a sovereign and to the hands of an 
executive leader, who were equally distinguished by the pos- 
session of so rare a characteristic. 

" I thank you, Seiior, for this proof of confidence," returned 
the queen, both surprised and gratified ; " and so long as God 
giveth me power to direct, and knowledge to decide, your in- 
terests as well as those of this long-cherished scheme, shall be 
looked to. But we are not to exclude the king from our con- 
federacy, since he hath been finally gained to our opinions, and 
no doubt now as anxiously looketh forward to success as we do 
ourselves." 

Columbus bowed his acquiescence, and the conjugal affection 
of Isabella was satisfied with this concession to her husband's 
character and motives ; for, while it was impossible that one so 
pure and ardent in the cause of virtue, and as disinterested as 
the queen, should not detect some of the selfishness of Ferdi- 
nand's cautious policy, the feelings of a wife so far prevailed in 
her breast over the sagacity of the sovereign, as to leave her 
blind to faults that the enemies of Aragon were fond of dwell- 
ing on. All admitted the truth of Isabella, but Ferdinand had 
far less credit with his contemporaries, either on the score of 
faith or on £hat of motives. Still he might have been ranked 
among the most upright of the reigning princes of Europe, his 
faults being rendered more conspicuous, perhaps, from being 
necessarily placed in such close connection with, and in such 
vivid contrast to, the truer virtues of the queen. In short, these 
two sovereigns, so intimately united by personal and political 
interests, merely exhibited on their thrones a picture that may 
be seen, at any moment, in all the inferior gradations of the 
social scale, in which the worldly views and meretricious mo- 
tives of man serve as foils to the truer heart, sincerer character, 
and more chastened conduct of woman. 

Don Fepnando now appeared, and he joined in the discourse 
in a manner to show that he considered himself fully committed 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 151 

to redeem the pledges given by his wife. The historians have 
told us that he had been won over by the intercessions of a 
favorite, though the better opinion would seem to be that def- 
erence for Isabella, whose pure earnestness in the cause of vir- 
tue often led him from his more selfish policy, lay at the bottom 
of his compliance. Whatever may have been the motive, how- 
ever, it is certain that the -king never entered into the undertak- 
ing with the ardent, zealous endeavors to insure success, which 
from that moment distinguished the conduct of his royal con- 
sort. 

" We have recovered our truant," said Isabella, as her hus- 
band approached, her eyes lighting and her cheeks flushed with 
a pious enthusiasm, like those of Mercedes de Valverde, who 
was an entranced witness of all that was passing. " We have 
recovered our truant, and there is not a moment of unnecessary 
delay to be permitted, until he shall be sent forth on this great 
voyage. Should he truly attain Cathay and the Indies, it will 
be a triumph to the church even exceeding this conquest of the 
territories of the Moor." 

" I am pleased to see the Senor Colon at Santa Fe, again," 
courteously returned the king, " and if he but do the half of 
that thou seemest to expect, we shall have reason to rejoice that 
our countenance hath not been withheld. He may not render 
the crown of Castile still more powerful, but he may so far en- 
rich himself that, as a subject, he will have difficulty in finding 
the proper uses for his gold." 

"There will always be a use for the gold of a Christian," 
answered the navigator, " while the Infidel remaineth the mas- 
ter of the Holy Sepulchre." 

"How is this!" exclaimed Ferdinand, in his quick, sharp 
voice : " dost thou think, Senor, of a crusade, as well as of dis- 
covering new regions ?" 

" Such, Your Highness, it hath long been my hope, would be 
the first appropriation of the wealth that will, out of question, 
flow from the discovery of a new and near route to the Indies. 
Is it not a blot on Christendom that the Mussulman should be 



152 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

permitted to raise his profane altars on the spot that Christ 
visited on earth ; where, indeed he was born, and where his 
holy remains lay until his glorious resurrection ? This foul dis- 
grace there are hearts and swords enough ready to wipe out ; 
all that is wanted is gold. If the first desire of my heart be to 
become the instrument of leading the way to the East, by a 
western and direct passage, the second is, to see the riches that 
will certainly follow such a discovery, devoted to the service of 
God, by rearing anew his altars and reviving his worship, in the 
land where he endured his agony and gave up the ghost for the 
sins of men." 

Isabella smiled at the navigator s enthusiasm, though, sooth 
to say, the sentiment found something of an echo in her pious 
bosom ; albeit the age of crusades appeared to have gone by. 
Not so exactly with Ferdinand. He smiled also, but no an- 
swering sentiment of holy zeal was awakened within him. He 
felt, on the contrary, a strong distrust of the wisdom of com- 
mitting the care of even two insignificant caravels, and the fate 
of a sum as small as three thousand crowns, to a visionary, who 
had scarcely made a commencement in one extremely equivocal 
enterprise, before his thoughts were, running on the execution 
of another, that had baffled the united efforts and pious con- 
stancy of all Europe. To him, the discovery of a western pas- 
sage to the Indies, and the repossession of the holy sepulchre, 
were results that were equally problematical, and it would have 
been quite sufficient to incur his distrust, to believe in the prac- 
ticability of either. Here, however, was a man who was abcut 
to embark in an attempt to execute the first, holding in reserve 
the last, as a consequence of success in the undertaking in 
which he was already engaged. 

There were a few minutes, during which Ferdinand seriously 
contemplated the defeat of the Genoese's schemes, and had 
the discourse terminated here, it is uncertain how far his cool 
and calculating policy might have prevailed over the good 
faith, sincere integrity, and newly awakened enthusiasm of his 
wife. Fortunately, the conversation had gone on while he 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 15S 

was meditating on this subject, and when lie rejoined the circle 
he found the queen and the navigator pursuing the subject 
with an earnestness that had entirely overlooked his momentary 
absence. 

" I shall show Your Highness all that she demandeth," con- 
tinued Columbus, in answer to a question of the queen's. " It 
is my expectation to reach the territories of the Great Khan, 
the descendant of the monarch who was visited by the Polos, 
a century since ; at which time a strong desire to embrace the 
religion of Christ was manifested by many in that gorgeous 
court, the sovereign included. We are told in the sacred 
books of prophecy, that the clay is to arrive when the whole 
earth will worship the true and living God ; and that time, it 
would seem, from many signs and tokens that are visible to 
those who seek them, draweth near, and is full of hope to such 
as honor God and seek his glory. To bring all those vast re- 
gions in subjection to the church, needeth but a constant faith, 
sustained by the delegated agencies of the priesthood, and the 
protecting hands of princes." 

" This hath a seeming probability," observed the queen, " and 
Providence so guide us in this mighty undertaking, that it may 
come to pass ! Were those Polos pious missionaries, Senor f" 

" They were but travellers ; men who sought their own ad- 
vantage, while they were not altogether unmindful of the duties 
of religion. It may be well, Senora, first to plant the cross in. 
the islands, and thence to spread the truth over the main land. 
Cipango, in particular, is a promising region for the commence- 
ment of the glorious work, which, no doubt, will proceed with 
all the swiftness of a miracle." 

" Is this Cipango known to produce spices, or aught that 
may serve to uphold a sinking treasury, and repay us for so 
much cost and risk?" asked the king, a little inopportunely for 
the zeal of the two other interlocutors. 

Isabella* looked pained, the prevailing trait in Ferdinand's 
character often causing her to feel as affectionate wives are 
wont to feel when their husbands forget to think, act, or speak 



154 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

up to the level of their own warm-hearted and virtuous propen- 
sities ; but she suffered no other sign of the passing emotions 
to escape her. 

"According to the accounts of Marco Polo, Your High- 
ness," answered Columbus, " earth hath no richer island. It 
aboundeth especially in gold ; nor are pearls and precious 
stones at all rare. But all that region is a quarter of infinite 
wealth and benighted infidelity. Providence seemeth to have 
united the first with the last, as a reward to the Christian mon- 
arch who shall use his power to extend the sw T ay of the church. 
The sea, thereabouts, is covered with smaller islands, Marco 
telling us that no less than seven thousand four hundred and 
forty have been enumerated, not one of all which doth not pro- 
duce some odoriferous tree, or plant of delicious perfume. It 
is then, thither, gracious Lord and Lady, my honored sove- 
reigns, that I propose to proceed at once, leaving all meaner 
objects, to exalt the two kingdoms and to serve the church. 
Should we reach Cipango in safety, as, by the blessing of God, 
acting on a zeal and faith that are not easily shaken, I trust we 
shall be able to do, in the course of two months' diligent navi- 
gation, it will be my next purpose to pass over to the continent, 
and seek the Khan himself, in his kingdom of Cathay. The 
day that my foot touches the land of Asia will be a glorious 
day for Spain, and for all who have had a part in the accom- 
plishment of so great an enterprise !" 

Ferdinand's keen eyes were riveted on the navigator, as he 
thus betrayed his hopes with the quiet but earnest manner of 
deep enthusiasm, and he might have been at a loss, himself, 
just at that moment, to have analyzed his own feelings. Tin. 
picture of wealth that Columbus had conjured to his imagina 
tion, was as enticing, as his cold and calculating habits of dis- 
trust and caution rendered it questionable. Isabella heard only, 
or thought only, of the pious longings of her pure spirit for the 
conversion and salvation of the Infidels, and thus each of the 
two sovereigns had a favorite impulse to bind him, or her, to 
the prosecution of the voyage. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 155 

After this, the conversation entered more into details, and 
the heads of the terras demanded by Columbus were gone over 
again, and approved of by those who were most interested in 
the matter. All thought of the archbishop and his objections 
was momentarily lost, and had the Genoese been a monarch, 
treating with monarchs, he could not have had more reason to 
be satisfied with the respectful manner in which his terms were 
heard. Even his proposal to receive one-eighth of the profits 
of this, and all future expeditions to the places he might dis- 
cover, on condition of his advancing an equal proportion of the 
outfits, was cheerfully acceded to ; making him, at once, a part- 
ner with the crown, in the risks and benefits of the many 
undertakings that it was hoped would follow from the success 
of this. 

Luis de St. Angel and Alonzo de Quintanilla quitted the 
royal presence, in company with Columbus. They saw him to 
his lodgings, and left him with a respect and cordiality of man- 
ner, that cheered a heart which had lately been so bruised and 
disappointed. As they walked away in company, the former, 
who, notwithstanding the liberality of his views and his strong 
support of the navigator, was not apt to suppress his thoughts, 
opened a dialogue in the following manner. 

" By all the saints! friend Alonzo," he exclaimed, " but this 
Colon carrieth it with a high hand among us, and in a way, 
sometimes, to make me doubt the prudence of our interference. 
He hath treated with the two sovereigns like a monarch, and 
like a monarch hath he carried his point !" 

" Who hath aided him more than thyself, friend Luis?" re- 
turned Alonzo de Quintanilla ; "for, without thy bold assault 
on Dona Isabella's patience, the matter had been decided 
against this voyage, and the Genoese would still be on his way 
to the court of King Louis. " 

" I regret it not ; the chance of keeping the Frenchman within 
modest bounds being worth a harder effort. Her Highness — 
Heaven and all the saints unite to bless her for her upright in- 
tentions and generous thoughts — will never regret the trifling 



15G MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

cost, even though bootless, with so great an aim in view. But 
now the thing is done, I marvel, myself, that a Queen of Castile 
and a King of Aragon should grant such conditions to an un- 
known and nameless sea-farer ; one that hath neither services, 
family, nor gold, to recommend him !" 

" Hath he not had Luis de St. Angel of his side ?" 

"That hath he," returned the receiver-general, " and that 
right stoutly, too ; and for good and sufficient cause. I only 
marvel at our success, and at the manner in w T hich this Colon 
hath borne himself in the affair. I much feared that the high 
price he set upon his services might ruin all our hopes." 

" And yet thou didst reason with the queen, as if thou 
thoughtst it insignificant, compared with the good that would 
come of the voyage." 

" Is there aught wonderful in this, my worthy friend ? We 
consume our means in efforts to obtain our ends, and, while 
suffering under the exhaustion, begin first to see the other side 
of the question. I am chiefly surprised at mine own success ! 
As for this Genoese, he is, truly, a most wonderful man, and, 
in my heart, I think him right in demanding such high condi- 
tions. If he succeed, who so great as he ? and, if he fail, the 
conditions will do him no good, and Castile little harm." 

" I have remarked, Sen.or de St Angel, that when grave men 
set alight value on themselves, the world is apt to take them 
at their word, though willing enough to laugh at the preten- 
sions of triflers. After all, the high demands of Colon may 
have done him much service, since their Highnesses could not 
but feel that they were negotiating with one who had faith in 
his own projects." 

" It is much as thou say est, Alonzo ; men often prizing us as 
we seem to prize ourselves, so long as we act at all up to the 
level of our pretensions. But there is sterling merit in this 
Colon to sustain him in all that he sayeth and doth ; wisdom 
of speech, dignity and gravity of mien, and nobleness of feeling 
and sentiment. Truly, I have listened to the man when he 
hath seemed inspired !" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 157 

" Well, lie hatli now good occasion to manifest whether this 
inspiration be of the true quality or not," returned the other. 
" Of a verity, I often distrust the wisdom of our own conclu- 
sions. 1 ' 

In this manner did even these two zealous friends of Colum- 
bus discuss his character and chances of success ; for, while 
they were among the most decided of his supporters, and had 
discovered the utmost readiness to uphold him when his cause 
seemed hopeless, now that the means were likely to be afforded 
to allow him to demonstrate the justice of his opinions, doubts 
and misgivings beset their minds. Such is human nature. Op- 
position awakens our zeal, quickens our apprehension, stimu- 
lates our reason, and emboldens our opinions ; while, thrown 
back upon ourselves for the proofs of what we have been long 
stoutly maintaining under the pressure of resistance, we begin 
to distrust the truth of our own theories and to dread the dem- 
onstrations of a failure. Even the first disciples of the Son of 
God faltered most in their faith as his predictions were being 
realized ; and most reformers are never so dogmatical and cer- 
tain as when battling for their principles, or so timid and wa- 
vering as when they are about to put their own long-cherished 
plans in execution. In all this we might see a wise provision 
of Providence, which gives us zeal to overcome difficulties, and 
prudence when caution and moderation become virtues rather 
than faults. 

Although Luis dc St. Angel and his friend conversed thus 
freely together, however, they did not the less continue true to 
their original feelings. Their doubts were transient and of little 
account ; and it was remarked of them, whenever they w 7 ere in 
the presence of Columbus himself, that the calm, steady, but 
deeply seated enthusiasm of that extraordinary man, did not 
fail to carry with him the opinions, not only of these steady 
supporters, but those of most other listeners. 



168 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



CHAPTER X. 

— " Song is on thy hills : 
Oh, sweet and mournful melodies of Spain, 
That lulFd my boyhood, how your memory thrills 
The exile's heart with sudden-wakening pain. 1 ' 

The Forest Sanctuary. 

From the m< ment that Isabella pledged her royal word to 
support Columbus in his great design, all reasonable doubts 
of the sailing of the expedition ceased, though few anticipated 
any results of importance. Of so much greater magnitude, 
indeed, did the conquest of the kingdom of Granada appear, 
at that instant, than any probable consequences which could 
follow from this novel enterprise, that the latter was almost 
overlooked in the all-absorbing interest that was connected with 
the former. 

There was one youthful and generous heart, however, all of 
whose hopes were concentrated in the success of the great voy- 
age. It is scarcely necessary to add, we mean that of Mercedes 
de Valverde. She had watched the recent events as they oc- 
curred, with an intensity of expectation that perhaps none but 
the youthful, fervent, inexperienced, and uncorrupted, can feel : 
and now that all her hopes were about to be realized, a tender 
and generous joy diffused itself over her whole moral system, 
in a way to render her happiness, for the time, even blissful. 
Although she loved so truly and with so much feminine devot- 
edness, nature had endowed this warm-hearted young creature 
with a sagacity and readiness of apprehension, which, when 
quickened by the sentiments that are so apt to concentrate 
all the energies of her sex, showed her the propriety of the 
distrust of the queen and her guardian, and fully justified 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 159 

their hesitation in her eyes, which were rather charmed than 
blinded by the ascendency of her passion. She knew too well 
what was due to her virgin fame, her high expectations, her 
great name, and her elevated position near the person, and in 
the immediate confidence of Isabella, even to wish her hand 
unworthily bestowed ; and while she deferred, with the dignity 
and discretion of birth and female decorum, to all that opinion 
and prudence could have a right to ask of a noble maiden, she 
confided in her lover's power to justify her choice* with the 
boundless confidence of a woman. Her aunt had taught her to 
believe that this voyage of the Genoese was likely to lead to great 
events, and her religious enthusiasm, like that of the queen's, 
led her to expect most of that which she so fervently wished. 

During the time it was known to those near the person of 
Isabella, that the conditions between the sovereigns and the 
navigators were being reduced to writing and were receiving the 
necessary forms, Luis neither sought an interview with his mis- 
tress, nor was accidentally favored in that way ; but, no sooner 
was it understood Columbus had effected all that he deemed 
necessary in this particular, and had quitted the court for the 
coast, than the young man threw himself, at once, on the gene- 
rosity of his aunt, beseeching her to favor his views now that he 
was about to leave Spain on an adventure that most regarded 
as desperate. All he asked was a pledge of being well receiv- 
ed by his mistress and her friends, on his return successful. 

" I see that thou hast taken a lesson from this new master of 
thine," answered the high-souled but kind-hearted Beatriz, smil- 
ing — " and would fain have thy terms also. But thou knowest, 
Luis, that Mercedes de Yalverde is no peasant's child to be 
lightly cared for, but that she cometh of the noblest blood of 
Spain, having had a Guzman for a mother, and Mendozas out 
of number among her kinsmen. She is, moreover, one of the 
richest heiresses of Castile ; and it would ill become her guard- 
ian to forget her watchfulness, under such circumstances, in be- 
half of one of the idle wanderers of Christendom, simply be- 
cause he happeneth to be her own beloved brother's son." 



160 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" And if the Dona Mercedes be all thou say est, Senora — and 
thou hast not even touched upon her highest claims to merit, 
her heart, her beauty, her truth, and her thousand virtues — but 
if she be all that thou sayest, Dona Beatriz, is a Bobadilla un- 
worthy of her V 

" How ! if she be, moreover, all thou sayest too, Don Luis! 
The heart, the truth, and the thousand virtues ! Methinks a 
shorter catalogue might content one who is himself so great a 
rover, lest some of these qualities be lost in his many jour* 
neys I" 

Luis laughed, in spite of himself, at the affected seriousness 
of his aunt ; and then successfully endeavoring to repress a 
little resentment that her language awakened, he answered in 
a way to do no discredit to a well-established reputation for 
good-nature. 

"I cannot call thee l Daughter-Marchioness,' in imitation of 
Her Highness," he answered, with a coaxing smile, so like that 
her deceased brother was wont to use when disposed to wheedle 
her out of some concession, that it fairly caused Doila Beatriz 
to start — "but I can say with more truth, ' Aunt-Marchioness,' 
— and a very dear aunt, too — wilt thou visit a little youthful in- 
discretion so severely ? I had hoped, now Colon was about to 
set forth, that all was forgotten in the noble and common end 
w 7 e have in fiew." 

"Luis," returned the aunt, regarding her nephew with the 
severe resolution that was so often exhibited in her acts as well 
as in her words, " dost think that a mere display of courage 
will prove sufficient to win Mercedes from me ? to put to sleep 
the vigilance of her friends ? to gain the approbation of her 
guardian ? Learn, too confident boy, that Mercedes de Guzman 
was the companion of my childhood ; my warmest, dearest 
friend, next to Her Highness ; and that she put all faith in my 
disposition to do full justice by her child. She died by slow 
degrees, and the fate of the orphan was often discussed between 
us. That she could ever become the wife of any but a Chris- 
tian noble, neither of us imagined possible ; but there are so 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 161 

many different characters under the same outward professions, 
that names deceived us not. I do believe that poor woman 
bethought her more of her child's future worldly fortunes than 
of her own sins, and that she prayed oftener for the happy con- 
clusion of the first than for the pardon of the last! Thou 
knowest little of the strength of a mother's love, Luis, and 
canst not understand all the doubts that beset the heart, when 
the parent is compelled to 'leave a tender plant, like Mercedes, 
to the cold nursing of a selfish and unfeeling world." 

u I can readily fancy the mother of my love fitted for heaven 
without the usual interpositions of masses and paters, Dona 
Beatriz ; but have aunts no consideration for nephews, as well 
as mothers for children V 

"The tie is close and strong, my child, and yet is it not 
parental ; nor art thou a sensitive, tme-hearted, enthusiastic girl, 
filled with the confidence of thy purity, and overflowing with 
the affections that, in the end, make mothers what they are." 

" By San Iago ! and am I not the very youth to render such 
a creature happy ? I, too, am sensitive — too much so, in sooth, 
for my own peace ; I, too, am true-hearted, as is seen by my 
having had but this one love, when I might have had fifty ; and 
if I am not exactly overflowing with the confidence of purity, I 
have the confidence of youth, health, strength, and courage, which 
is quite as useful for a cavalier ; and I have abundance of the 
affection that makes good fathers, which is all that can reason- 
ably be asked of a man." 

" Thou, then, thinkest thyself, truant, every way worthy to 
be the husband of Mercedes de Valverde?" 

' ' Nay, aunt of mine, thou hast a searching way with thy 
questions ! Who is, or can be, exactly worthy of so much 
excellence ? I may not be altogether deserving of her, but 
then again, I am not altogether undeserving of her. I am quite as 
noble, nearly as well endowed with estates, of suitable years, of 
fitting address as a knight, and love her better than I love my own 
soul. Methinks the last should count for something, since he that 
loveth devotedly, will surely strive to render its object happy." 



162 ERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

"Thou art a silly, inexperienced boy, with a most excellent 
heart, a happy, careless disposition, and a head that was made 
to hold better thoughts than commonly reside there !" exclaimed 
the aunt, giving way to an impulse of natural feeling, even 
while she frowned on her nephew's folly. " But, hear me, and 
for once think gravely, and reflect on what I say. I have told 
thee of the mother of Mercedes, of her dying doubts, her 
anxiety, and of her confidence in me. Her Highness and I 
were alone with her, the morning of the day that her spirit took 
its flight to heaven ; and then she poured out all her feelings, 
in a way that has left on us both an impression that can never 
cease, while aught can be done by either for the security of the 
daughter's happiness. Thou hast thought the queen unkind. I 
know not but, in thy intemperate speech, thou hast dared to 
charge Her Highness with carrying her care for her subjects 7 
well-being beyond a sovereign's rights" — 

" Nay, Dona Beatriz," hastily interrupted Luis, " herein thou 
dost me great injustice. I may have felt — no doubt I have 
keenly, bitterly, felt the consequences of Dona Isabella's dis- 
trust of my constancy ; but never has rebel thought of mine 
even presumed to doubt her right to command all our services, 
as well as all our lives. This is due to her sacred authority 
from all ; but we, who so well know the heart and motives of 
the queen, also know that she doth naught from caprice or a 
desire to rule ; while she doth so much from affection to her 
people." 

As Don Luis uttered this with an earnest look, and features 
flushed with sincerity, it was impossible not to see that he 
meant as much as he said. If men considered the consequences 
that often attend their lightest words, less levity of speech would 
be used, and the office of tale-bearer, the meanest station in the 
whole catalogue, of social rank, would become extinct for want 
of occupation. Few cared less, or thought less, about the con- 
sequences of what they uttered, than Luis de Bobadilla ; and 
yet this hasty but sincere reply did him good service with more 
than one of those who exercised a material influence over his 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 163 

fortunes. The honest praise of the queen went directly to the 
heart of the Marchioness, who rather idolized than loved her 
royal mistress, the long and close intimacy that had existed 
between them having made her thoroughly acquainted with 
the pure and almost holy character of Isabella ; and when she 
repeated the words of her nephew to the latter, her own well- 
established reputation for truth caused them to be implicitly 
believed. Whatever may be the correctness of our views in 
general, one of the most certain ways to the feelings is the 
assurance of being respected and esteemed ; while, of all the 
divine mandates, the most difficult to find obedience is that 
which tells us to "love those who hate" us. Isabella, notwith- 
standing her high destiny and lofty qualities, was thoroughly a 
woman; and. when she discovered that, in spite of her own 
coldness to the youth, he really entertained so much profound 
deference for her character, and appreciated her feelings and 
motives in a way that conscience told her she merited, she was 
much better disposed to look at his peculiar faults with indul- 
gence, and to ascribe that to mere animal spirits, which, under 
less favorable auspices, might possibly have been mistaken for 
ignoble propensities. 

But this is a little anticipating events. The first consequence 
of Luis 1 speech was a milder expression in the countenance of 
his aunt, and a disposition to consider his entreaties to be ad- 
mitted to a private interview with Mercedes, with more indul- 
gence. 

"I may have done thee injustice in this, Luis," resumed 
Dona Beatriz, betraying in her manner the sudden change of 
feeling mentioned ; " for I do think thee conscious of thy duty 
to Her Highness, and of the almost heavenly sense of justice 
that reigneth in her heart, and through that heart, in Castile. 
Thou hast not lost in my esteem by thus exhibiting thy respect 
and love for the queen, for it is impossible to have any regard 
for female virtue, and not to manifest it to its best repre- 
sentative." 

" Do I not, also, dear aunt, in my attachment to thy ward ? 



164 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Is not my very choice, in some sort, a pledge of the truth and 
justice of my feelings in these particulars ?•' 

" Ah ! Luis de Bobadilla, it is not difficult to teach the heart 
to lean toward the richest and the noblest, when she happeneth 
also to be the fairest, maiden of Spain I" 

" And am I a hypocrite, Marchioness ? Dost thou accuse 
the son of thy brother of being a feigner of that which he doth 
not feel? — one influenced by so mean a passion as the love of 
gold and of lands V 

" Foreign lands, heedless hoy" returned the aunt, smiling, 
" but not of others' lands. No, Luis, none that know thee will 
accuse thee of hypocrisy. We believe in the truth and ardor 
of thy attachment, and it is for that very cause that we most 
distrust thy passion." 

" How ! Are feigned feelings of more repute with the queen 
and thyself, than real feelings ? A spurious and fancied love, 
than the honest, downright, manly passion ?" 

"Jt is this genuine feeling, this honest, downright, manly 
passion, as thou termest it, which is most apt to awaken sym- 
pathy in the tender bosom of a young girl. There is no truer 
touch-stone, by which to try the faithfulness of feelings, than 
the heart, when the head is not turned by vanity ; and the more 
unquestionable the passion, the easier is it for its subject to 
make the discovery. Two drops of water do not glide together 
more naturally than two hearts, nephew, when there is a strong 
affinity between them. Didst thou not really love Mercedes, 
as my near and dear relative, thou mightst laugh and sing in 
her company at all times that should be suitable for the dignity 
of a maiden, and it would not cause me an uneasy moment." 

" I am thy near and dear relative, aunt of mine, with a 
miracle ! and yet it is more difficult for me to get a sight of 
thy ward" — 

" Who is the especial care of the Queen of Castile." 
" Well, be it so ; and why should a Bobadilla be proscribed 
by even a Queen of Castile ?" 

Luis then had recourse to his most persuasive powers, and, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 165 

improving the little advantage he had gained, by dint of coax- 
ing and teasing he so far prevailed on Doila Beatriz as to obtain 
a promise that she would apply to the queen for permission to 
grant him one private interview with Mercedes. We say the 
queen, since Isabella, distrusting the influence of blood, had 
cautioned the Marchioness on this subject; and the prudence 
of letting the young people see each other as little as possible, 
had been fully settled between them. It was in redeeming this 
promise, that the aunt related the substance of the conversation 
that has just been given, and mentioned to her royal mistress 
the state of her nephew's feelings as respected herself. The 
effect of such information was necessarily favorable to the young 
man's views, and one of its first fruits was the desired permission 
to have the interview he sought. 

" They are not sovereigns," remarked the queen, with a 
smile that the favorite could see was melancholy, though it 
surpassed her means of penetration to say whether it proceeded 
from a really saddened feeling, or whether it were merely the 
manner- in which the mind is apt to glance backward at emo- 
tions that it is known can never be again awakened in our 
bosoms; — "they arc not sovereigns, Daughter-Marchioness, to 
woo by proxy, and wed as strangers. It may not be wise to 
suffer the intercourse to become too common, but it were cruel 
to deny the youth, as he is about to depart on an enterprise 
of so doubtful issue, one opportunity to declare his passion 
and to make his protestations of constancy. If thy ward 
hath, in truth, any tenderness for him, the recollection of this 
interview will soothe many a weary hour while Don Luis is 
away." 

" And add fuel to the flame," returned Doila Beatriz, point- 
edly. 

" We know not that, my good Beatriz, since, the heart be- 
ing softened by the power of God to a sense of its religious 
duties, may not the same kind hand direct it and shield it in 
the indulgence of its more worldly feelings ? Mercedes will 
never forget her duty, and, the imagination feeding itself, it 



166 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

may not be the wisest course to leave that of an enthusiast like 
our young charge, so entirely to its own pictures. Eealities 
are often less hazardous than the creatures of the fancy. Then, 
thy nephew will not be a loser by the occasion, for, by keeping 
constantly in view the object he now seemeth to pursue so earn- 
estly, he will the more endeavor to deserve success." 

" I much fear, Senora, that the best conclusions are not to 
be depended on in an affair that touches the waywardness of 
the feelings." 

" Perhaps not, Beatriz ; and yet I do not see that we can 
well deny this interview, now that Don Luis is so near depar- 
ture. Tell him I accord him that which he so desireth, and let 
him bear in mind that a grandee should never quit Castile 
without presenting himself before his sovereign." 

"I fear, Your Highness," returned the Marchioness, laugh- 
ing, "that Don Luis will feel this last command, however 
gracious and kind in fact, as a strong rebuke, since he hath 
more than once done this already, without even presenting him- 
self before his own aunt !" 

"On those occasions he went idly, and without considera- 
tion ; but he is now engaged in an honorable and noble enter- 
prise, and we will make it apparent to him that all feel the 
difference." 

The conversation now changed, it being understood that the 
request of the young man was to be granted. Isabella had, in 
this instance, departed from a law she had laid down for her 
own government, under the influence of her womanly feelings, 
which often caused her to forget that she was a queen, when 
no very grave duties existed to keep alive the recollection ; for 
it would have been difficult to decide in which light this pure- 
minded and excellent female most merited the esteem of man- 
kind — in her high character as a just and conscientious sove- 
reign, or when she acted more directly under the gentler 
impulses of her sex. As for her friend, she was perhaps more 
tenacious of doing what she conceived to be her duty, by her 
ward, than the queen herself ; since, with a greater responsibil- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 167 

ity, sLe was exposed to the suspicion of acting with a design to 
increase the wealth and to strengthen the connections of her 
own family. Still, the wishes of Isabella were laws to the Mar- 
chioness of Moya, and she sought an early opportunity to 
acquaint her ward with her intention to allow Don Luis, for 
once, to plead his own cause with his mistress, before he de- 
parted on his perilous and mysterious enterprise. 

Our heroine received this intelligence with the mingled sensa- 
tions of apprehension, delight, misgivings, and joy, that are so 
apt to beset the female heart, in the freshness of its affections, 
when once brought in subjection to the master-passion. She had 
never thought it possible Luis would sail on an expedition like 
that in which he was engaged, without endeavoring to see her 
alone ; but, now she was assured that both the queen and her 
guardian acquiesced in his being admitted, she almost regretted 
their compliance. These contradictory emotions, however, 
soon subsided in the tender melancholy that gradually drew 
around her manner, as the hour* for the departure approached. 
Nor were her feelings on the subject of Luis' ready enlist- 
ment in the expedition, more consistent. At times she exulted 
in her lover's resolution, and in his manly devotion to glory 
and the good of the church ; remembering with pride that, of 
all the high nobility of Castile, he alone ventured life and 
credit with the Genoese ; and then, again, tormenting doubts 
came over her, as she feared that the love of roving, and of ad- 
venture, was quite as active in his heart, as love of herself. 
But in all this there was nothing new. The more pure and 
ingenuous the feelings of those who truly submit to the in- 
fluence of this passion, the more keenly alive are their distrusts 
apt to be, and the more tormenting their misgivings of them- 
selves. 

Her mind made up, Dona Beatriz acted fairly by the young 
people. As soon as Luis was admitted to her own presence, 
on the appointed morning, she told him that he was expected 
by Mercedes, who was waiting his appearance in the usual 
reception-room. Scarce giving himself time to kiss the hand 



108 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

of his aunt, and to make those other demonstrations of respect 
that the customs of the age required from the young to their 
seniors — more especially when there existed between them a 
tie of blood as close as that which united the Marchioness of 
Moya with the Conde de Llera — the young man bounded away, 
and was soon in the presence of his mistress. As Mercedes 
was prepared for the interview, she betrayed the feeling of the 
moment merely by a heightened color, and the greater lustre 
of eyes that were always bright, though often so soft and 
melancholy. 

"Luis I" escaped from her, and then, as if ashamed of the 
emotion betrayed in the very tones of her voice, she withdrew 
the foot that had involuntarily advanced to meet him, even 
while she kept a hand extended in friendly confidence. 

" Mercedes P' and the hand was withdrawn to put a stop to 
the kisses with which it was covered. "Thou art harder to be 
seen, of late, than it will be to discover this Cathay of the 
Genoese ; for, between the Dona Isabella and Dona Beatriz, 
never was paradise watched more closely by guardian angels, 
than thy person is watched by thy protectors." 

"And can it be necessary, Luis, when thou art the danger 
apprehended !" 

"Do they think I shall carry thee off, like some Moorish 
girl borne away on the crupper of a Christian knight's saddle, 
and place thee in the caravel of Colon, that we may go in 
search of Prestor John and the Great Khan, in company?" 

" They may think thee capable of this act of madness, dear 
Luis, but they will hardly suspect me." 

"No, thou art truly a model of prudence in all matters that 
require feeling for thy lover. " 

" Luis !" exclaimed the girl, again ; and this time unbidden 
tears started to her eyes. 

"Forgive me, Mercedes — dearest, dearest Mercedes; but 
this delay and all these coldly cruel precautions make me forget 
myself. Am I a needy and unknown adventurer, that they 
treat me thus, instead of being a noble Castilian knight !" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 169 

" Thou forgettest, Luis, that noble Castilian maidens are not 
wont to see even noble Castilian cavaliers alone, and, but for 
the gracious condescension of Her Highness, and the indulgence 
of my guardian, who happeneth to be thy aunt, this interview 
could not take place." 

" Alone ! And dost thou call this being alone, or any exces- 
sive favor, on the part of Her Highness, when thou seest that 
we are watched by the eye, if not by the ear ! I fear to speak 
above my breath, lest the sounds should disturb that venerable 
lady's meditations I" 

As Luis de Bobadilla uttered this, he glanced his eye at the 
figure of the duena of his mistress, whose person was visible 
through an open door, in an adjoining room, where the good 
woman sat, intently occupied in reading certain homilies. 

" Dost mean my poor Pepita," answered Mercedes, laugh- 
ing ; for the presence of her attendant, to whom she had been 
accustomed from infancy, was no more restraint on her own in- 
nocent thoughts and words, than would have proved a redupli- 
cation of herself, had such a thing been possible. " Many 
have been her protestations against this meeting, which she in- 
sists is contrary to all rule among noble ladies, and which, she 
says, would never have been accorded by my poor, sainted 
mother, were she still living." 

" Ay, she hath a look that is sufficient of itself to set every 
generous mind a-tilting with her. One can see envy of thy 
beauty and youth, in every wrinkle of her unamiable face." 

"Then little dost thou know my excellent Pepita, who en- 
vieth nothing, and who hath but one marked weakness, and 
that is, too much affection, and too much indulgence, for my 
self." 

" I detest a duena ; ay, as I detest an Infidel !" 

" Senor," said Pepita, whose vigilant ears, notwithstanding 
her book and the homilies, heard all that passed, "this is a 
common feeling among youthful cavaliers, I fear ; but they tell 
me that the very duena who is so displeasing to the lover, 
getteth to be a grateful object, in time, with the husband. A3 



170 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



my features and wrinkles, however, are so disagreeable to you, 
and no doubt cause you pain, by closing this door the sight 
will be shut out, as, indeed, will be the sound of my unpleasant 
cough, and of your own protestations of love, Seiior Knight." 

This was said in much better language than was commonly 
used by women of the duena's class, and with a good-nature 
that seemed indomitable, it being completely undisturbed by 
Luis' petulant remarks. 

" Thou shalt not close the door, Pepita," cried Mercedes, 
blushing rosy red, and springing forward to interpose her own 
hand against the act. " What is there that the Conde de Llera 
can have to say to one like me, that thou mayest not hear VI 

" Nay, dear child, the noble cavalier is about to talk of 
love!" ', 

" And is it thou, with whom the language of affection is so 
uncommon, that it frighteneth thee ! Hath thy discourse been 
of aught but love, since thou hast known and cared for me ?" 

" It augureth badly for thy suit, Senor," said Pepita, smil- 
ing, while she suspended the movement of the hand that was 
about to close the door, " if Dona Mercedes thinketh of your 
love as she thinketh of mine. Surely, child, thou dost not 
fancy me a gay, gallant young noble, come to pour out his soul 
at thy feet, and mistakest my simple words of affection for such 
as will be likely to flow from the honeyed tongue of a Bobadilla, 
bent on gaining his suit with the fairest maiden of Castile V 

Mercedes shrunk back, for, though innocent as purity itself, 
her heart taught her the difference between the language of her 
lover and the language of her nurse, even when each most ex- 
pressed affection. Her hand released its hold of the wood, and 
unconsciously was laid, with its pretty fellow, on her crimsoned 
face. Pepita profited by her advantage, and closed the door. 
A smile of triumph gleamed on the handsome features of Luis, 
and, after he had forced his mistress, by a gentle compulsion, 
to resume the seat from which she had risen to meet him, he 
threw himself on a stool at her feet, and stretching out his well 
turned limbs in an easy attitude, so as to allow himself to gaze 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. l7l 

into the beautiful face that he had set up, like an idol, before 
him, he renewed the discourse. 

" This is a paragon of duenas," he cried, " and I might have 
known that none of the ill-tempered, unreasonable school of 
such beings, would be tolerated near thy person. This Pepita 
is a jewel, and she may consider herself established in her office 
for life, if, by the cunning of this Genoese, mine own resolution, 
the queen's repentance, and thy gentle favor, I ever prove so 
lucky as to become thy husband." 

"Thou forgettest, Luis," answered Mercedes, trembling even 
while she laughed at her own conceit, "that if the husband 
esteemeth the duena the lover could not endure, that the lover 
may esteem the duena that the husband may be unwilling to 
abide." 

" Peste! these are crooked matters, and ill-suited to the 
straight-forward philosophy of Luis de Bobadilla. There is one 
thing only, which I can, or do, pretend to know, out of any 
controversy, and that I am ready to maintain in the face of all 
the doctors of Salamanca, or all the chivalry of Christendom, 
that of the Infidel included ; which is, that thou art the fairest, 
sweetest, best, most virtuous, and in all things the most win- 
ning maiden of Spain, and that no other living knight so loveth 
and honorethhis mistress as I love and honor thee !" 

The language of admiration is ever soothing to female ears, 
and Mercedes, giving to the words of the youth an impression 
of sincerity that his manner fully warranted, forgot the duena 
and her little interruption, in the delight of listening to declara- 
tions that were so grateful to her affections. Still, the coyness 
of her sex, and the recent date of their mutual confidence, ren- 
dered her answer less open than it might otherwise have been. 

"lam told," she said, " that you young cavaliers, who pant 
for occasions to show your skill and courage with the lance and 
in the tourney, are ever making some such protestations in fa- 
vor of this or that noble maiden, in order to provoke others 
like themselves to make counter assertions, that they may show 
their prowess as knights, and gain high names for gallantry." 



172 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" This cometh of being so much shut up in Dona Beatriz's 
private rooms, lest some bold Spanish eyes should look pro- 
fanely on thy beauty, Mercedes. We are not in the age of the 
errants and the troubadours, when men committed a thousand 
follies that they might be thought weaker even than nature had 
made them. In that age, your knights discoursed largely of 
love, but in our own they feel it. In sooth, I think this savor- 
eth of some of the profound morality of Pepita !" 

" Say naught against Pepita, Luis, who hath much befriended 
thee to-day, else would thy tongue, and thine eyes too, be un- 
der the restraint of her presence. But that which thou term- 
est the morality of the good dueiia, is, in truth, the morality of 
the excellent and most noble Dona Beatriz de Cabrera, Mar- 
chioness of Moya, who was born a lady of the House of Boba- 
dilla, I believe." 

" Well, well, I dare to say there is no great difference be- 
tween the lessons of a duchess and the lessons of a duena in 
the privacy of the closet, when there is one like thee, beautiful, 
and rich, and virtuous, to guard. They say you young maid- 
ens are told that we cavaliers are so many ogres, and that the 
only way to reach paradise is to think naught of us but evil, 
and then, when some suitable marriage hath been decided on, 
the poor young creature is suddenly alarmed by an order to 
come forth and be wedded to one of these very monsters." 

" And, in this mode, hast thou been treated ! It would seem 
that much pains are taken to make the young of the two sexes 
think ill of each other. But, Luis, this is pure idleness, and 
we waste in it most precious moments ; moments that may 
never return. How go matters with Colon — and when is he 
like to quit the court?" 

" He hath already departed ; for, having obtained all he hath 
sought of the queen, he quitted Santa Fe, with the royal au- 
thority to sustain him in the fullest manner. If thou nearest 
aught of one Pedro de Munos, or Pero Gutierrez, at the court 
of Cathay, thou wilt know on whose shoulders to lay his 
follies." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 173 

"I would rather that thou shouldst undertake this voyage in 
thine own name, Luis, than under a feigned appellation. Con- 
cealments of this nature are seldom wise, and surely thou dost 
not undertake the enterprise" — the tell-tale blood stole to the 
cheeks of Mercedes as she proceeded — "with a motive thai- 
need, bring shame." 

" 'Tis the wish of my aunt ; as for myself, I would put thy 
favor in my casque, thy emblem on my shield, and let it be 
known, far and near, that Luis of Llera sought the court of 
Cathay, with the intent to defy its chivalry to produce as fair or 
as virtuous a maiden as thyself." 

" We are not in the age of errants, sir knight, but in one of 
reason and truth," returned Mercedes, laughing, though every 
syllable that proved the earnest and entire devotion of the 
young man went directly to her heart, strengthening his hold 
on it, and increasing the flame that burnt within, by adding the 
fuel that was most adapted to that purpose — " we are not in the 
age of knights-errant, Don Luis de Bobadilla, as thou thyself 
hast just affirmed ; but one in which even the lover is reflecting, 
and as apt to discover the faults of his lady-love as to dwell 
upon her perfections. I look for better things from thee, than to 
hear that thou hast ridden through the highways of Cathay, defy- 
ing to combat and seeking giants, in order to exalt my beauty, and 
tempting others to decry it, if it were only out of pure opposi- 
tion to thy idle boastings. Ah ! Luis, thou art now engaged in 
a most truly noble enterprise, one that will join thy name to 
those of the applauded of men, and which will form thy pride 
and exultation in after-life, when the eyes of us both shall be 
dimmed by age, and we shall look back with longings to dis- 
cover aught of which to be proud." 

It was thrice pleasant to the youth to hear his mistress, in 
the innocence of her heart, and in the fulness of her feelings, 
thus uniting his fate with her own ; and when she ceased speak- 
ing, all unconscious how much might be indirectly implied 
from her words, he still listened intently, as if he would fain 
hear the sounds after they had died on his ear. 



174 MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 

" What enterprise can be nobler, more worthy to awaken 
all rny resolution, than to win thy hand !" he exclaimed, after 
a short pause. "I follow Colon with no other object; share 
his chances, to remove the objections of Doiia Isabella ; and 
will accompany him to the earth's end, rather than that thy 
choice should be dishonored. Thou art my Great Khan, 
beloved Mercedes, and thy smiles and affection are the only 
Cathay I seek." 

" Say not so, dear Luis, for thou knowest not the nobility 
of thine own soul, nor the generosity of thine own intentions. 
This is a stupendous project of Colon's, and much as I rejoice 
that he hath had the imagination to conceive it, and the heart 
to undertake it in his own person, on account of the good it 
must produce to the heathen, and the manner in which it will 
necessarily redound to the glory of God, still I fear that I am 
equally gladdened with the recollection that thy name will be 
forever associated with the great achievement, and thy detrac- 
tors put to shame with the resolution and spirit with which so 
noble an end will have been attained." 

"This is nothing but truth, Mercedes, should we reach the 
Indies ; but, should the saints desert us, and our project fail, I 
fear that even thou wouldst be ashamed to confess an interest 
in an unfortunate adventurer who hath returned without suc- 
cess, and thereby made himself the subject of sneers and deri- 
sion, instead of wearing the honorable distinction that thou 
seemest so confidently to expect." 

" Then, Luis de Bobadilla, thou knowest me not," answered 
Mercedes, hastily, and speaking with a tender earnestness that 
brought the blood into her cheeks, gradually brightening the 
brilliancy of her eyes, until they shone with a lustre that 
seemed almost supernatural — " then, Luis de Bobadilla, thou 
knowest me not. I wish thee to share in the glory of this en- 
terprise, because calumny and censure have not been altogether 
idle with thy youth, and because I feel that Her Highness' 
favor is most easily obtained by it ; but, if thou believest that 
the spirit to engage with Colon was necessary to incline me 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 175 

to think kindly of my guardian's nephew, thou neither under- 
standest the sentiments that draw me toward thee, nor hast a 
just appreciation of the hours of sorrow I have suffered on thy 
account." 

" Dearest, most generous, noble-hearted girl, I am unworthy 
of thy truth, of thy pure sincerity, and of all thy devoted feel- 
ings ! Drive me from thee at once, that I may ne'er again 
cause thee a moment's grief." 

" Nay, Luis, thy remedy, I fear me, would prove worse than 
the disease that thou wouldst cure," returned the beautiful girl, 
smiling and blushing as she spoke, and turning her eloquent 
eyes on the youth in a way to avow volumes of tenderness. 
" With thee must I be happy, or unhappy, as Providence may 
will it ; or miserable without thee." 

The conversation now took that unconnected, and yet com- 
prehensive cast, which is apt to characterize the discourse of 
those who feel as much as they reason, and it covered more 
interests, sentiments, and events, than our limits will allow us 
to record. As usual, Luis was inconsistent, jealous, repentant, 
full of passion and protestations, fancying a thousand evils at 
one instant, and figuring in his imagination a terrestrial para- 
dise at the next ; while Mercedes was enthusiastic, generous, 
devoted, and yet high-principled, self-denying, and womanly ; 
meeting her ardent suitor's vows with a tenderness that seemed 
to lose all other considerations in her love, and repelling with 
maiden coyness, and with the dignity of her sex, his rhap- 
sodies, whenever they touched upon the exaggerated and in- 
discreet. 

The interview lasted an hour, and it is scarce necessary to 
say that vows of constancy, and pledges never to marry another, 
were given, again and again. As the time for separating ap- 
proached, Mercedes opened a small casket that contained her 
jewels, and drew forth one which she offered to her lover as a 
gage of her truth. 

" I will not give thee a glove to wear in thy casque at tour- 
neys, Luis," she said, " but I offer this holy symbol, which may 



176- MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

remind thee, at the same moment, of the great pursuit thou 
hast before thee, and of her who will wait its issue with doubts 
and fears little less active than those of Colon himself. Thou 
needst no other crucifix to say thy paters before, and these stones 
are sapphires, which thou knowest are the tokens of fidelity — a 
feeling that thou mayst encourage as respects thy lasting wel- 
fare, and which it would not grieve me to know thou kept'st 
ever active in thy bosom when thinking of the unworthy giver 
of the trifle." 

This was said half in melancholy, and half in lightness of 
heart, for Mercedes felt, at parting, both a weight of sorrow 
that was hard to be borne, and a buoyancy of the very feeling 
to which she had just alluded, that much disposed her to smile ; 
and it was said with those winning accents with which the 
youthful and tender avow their emotions, when the heart is 
subdued by the thoughts of absence and dangers. The gift 
was a small cross, formed of the stones she had named, and of 
great intrinsic value, as well as precious from the motives and 
character of her who offered it. 

"Thou hast had a care of my soul, in this, Mercedes," said 
Luis, smiling, when he had kissed the jewelled cross again and 
again — " and art resolved if the sovereign of Cathay should re- 
fuse to be converted to our faith, that we shall not be converted 
to his. I fear that my offering will appear tame and valueless 
in thine eyes, after so precious a boon." 

" One lock of thy hair, Luis, is all I desire. Thou knowest 
that I have no need of jewels." 

" If I thought the sight of my bushy head would give thee 
pleasure, every hair should quit it, and I would sail from Spain 
with a poll as naked as a priest's, or even an Infidel's ; but the 
Bobadillas have their jewels, and a Bobadilla's bride shall wear 
them : this necklace was my mother's, Mercedes ; it is said to 
have once been the property of a queen, though none have ever 
worn it who will so honor it as thou." 

" I take it, Luis, for it is thy offering and may not be re- 
fused ; and yet I take it tremblingly, for I see signs of our dif- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



Ill 



fcrent natures in these gifts. Thou hast chosen the gorgeous 
and the brilliant, which pall in time, and seldom lead to con- 
tentment ; while my woman's heart hath led me to constancy. 
I fear some brilliant beauty of the East would better gain thy 
lasting admiration than a poor Castilian maid who hath little 
but her faith and love to recommend her I" 

Protestations on the part of the young man followed, and 
Mercedes permitted one fond and long embrace ere they sepa- 
rated. She wept on the bosom of Don Luis, and at the final 
moment of parting, as ever happens with woman, feeling got 
the better of form, and her whole soul confessed its weakness. 
At length Luis tore himself away from her presence, and that 
night he was on his way to the coast, under an assumed name, 
and in simple guise ; whither Columbus had already preceded. 




l?S MERCEDES OF CASTIL3 



CHAPTER XL 

" But where is Harold ? Shall I then forget 
To urge the gloomy wanderer o'er the wave ? 
Little reckM he of all that men regret ; 
No loved one now in feign'd lament conld rave ; 
No friend the parting hand extended gave 
Ere the cold stranger pass'd to other climes." 

Byron. 

The reader is not to suppose that the eyes of Europe were 
on our adventurers. Truth and falsehood, inseparable compan- 
ions, it would seem, throughout all time, were not then diffused 
over the land by means of newspapers, with mercenary dili- 
gence ; and it was only the favored few who got early intelli- 
gence of enterprises like that in which Columbus was engaged. 
Luis de Bobadilla had, therefore, stolen from court unnoticed, 
and they who came in time to miss his presence, either supposed 
him to be on a visit to one of his castles, or to have gone forth 
on another of those wandering tours which were supposed to 
be blemishes on his chivalry and unworthy of his birth. As 
for the Genoese himself, his absence was scarcely heeded, 
though it was understood among the courtiers generally that 
Isabella had entered into some arrangement with him, which 
gave the adventurer higher rank and greater advantages than 
his future services would probably ever justify. The other 
principal adventurers were too insignificant to attract much at- 
tention, and they had severally departed for the coast without 
the knowledge of their movements extending far beyond the 
narrow circles of their own acquaintances. Neither was this 
expedition, so bold in its conception and so momentous in its 
consequences, destined to sail from one of the more important 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 179 

ports of Spain ; but orders to famish trie necessary means had 
been sent to a haven of altogether inferior rank, and which 
would seem to have possessed no other recommendations for 
this particular service, than hardy mariners, and a position 
without the pass of Gibraltar, which was sometimes rendered 
hazardous by the rovers of Africa. The order, however, is said 
to have been issued to the place selected, in consequence of its 
having incurred some legal penalty, by which it had been con- 
demned to serve the crown for a twelvemonth with two armed 
caravels. Such punishments, it would seem, were part of the 
policy of an age in which navies were little more than levies on 
sea-ports, and when fleets were usually manned by soldiers from 
the land. 

Palos de Moguer, the place ordered to pay this tribute for its 
transgression, was a town of little importance, even at the close 
of the fifteenth century, and it has since dwindled to an insig- 
nificant fishing village. Like most places that are little favored 
by nature, its population was hardy and adventurous, as adven- 
ture was then limited by ignorance. It possessed no stately 
caracks, its business and want of opulence confining all its 
efforts to the lighter caravel and the still more diminutive 
felucca. All the succor, indeed, that Columbus had been able 
to procure from the two crowns, by his protracted solicitations, 
was the order for the equipment of the two caravels mentioned, 
with the additional officers and men that always accompanied 
a royal expedition. The reader, however, is not to infer from 
this fact any niggardliness of spirit, or any want of faith, on the 
part of Isabella. It was partly owing to the exhausted condi- 
tion of her treasury, a consequence of the late war with the 
Moor, and more, perhaps, to the experience and discretion of 
the great navigator himself, who well understood that, for the 
purposes of discovery, vessels of this size would be more useful 
and secure than those that were larger. 

On a rocky promontory, at a distance of less than a league 
from the village of Palos, stood the convent of La Eabida, .since 
rendered so celebrated by its hospitality to Columbus. At the 



180 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

gate of this building, seven years before, the navigator, leading 
his youthful son by the hand, had presented himself, a solicitor 
for food in behalf of the wearied boy. The story is too well 
known to need repetition here, and we will merely add that 
his long residence in this convent, and the firm friends he had 
made of the holy Franciscans who occupied it, as well as among 
others in their vicinity, were also probably motives that in- 
fluenced him in directing the choice of the crown to this par- 
ticular place. Columbus had not only circulated his opinions 
with the monks, but with the more intelligent of the neighbor- 
hood, and the first converts he made in Spain were at this 
place. 

Notwithstanding all the circumstances named, the order of 
the crown to prepare the caravels in question, spread consterna- 
tion among the mariners of Palos. In that age, it was thought 
a wonderful achievement to follow the land, along the coast of 
Africa, and to approach the equator. The vaguest notions 
existed in the popular mind, concerning those unknown regions, 
and many even believed that by journeying south it was possi- 
ble to reach a portion of the earth where animal and vegetable 
life must cease on account of the intense heat of the sun. The 
revolution of the planets, the diurnal motion of the earth, and 
the causes of the changes in the seasons, were then profound 
mysteries even to the learned ; or, if glimmerings of the truth 
did exist, they existed as the first rays of the dawn dimly and 
hesitatingly announce the approach of day. It is not surprising, 
therefore, that the simple-minded and unlettered mariners of 
Palos viewed the order of the crown as a sentence of destruc- 
tion on all who might be fated to obey it. The ocean, when 
certain limits were passed, was thought to be, like the firma- 
ment, a sort of chaotic void ; and the imaginations of the igno- 
rant had conjured up currents and whirlpools that were be- 
lieved to lead to fiery climates and frightful scenes of natural 
destruction. Some even fancied it possible to reach the utter- 
most boundaries of the earth, and to slide off into vacuum, by 
means of swift but imperceptible currents. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 181 

Such was the state of things, in the middle of the month of 
July. Columbus was still in the convent of Rabida, in the 
company of his constant friend and adherent, Fray Juan Perez, 
when a lay brother came to announce that a stranger had arrived 
at the gate, asking earnestly for the Senor Christoval Colon. 

" Hath he the aspect of a messenger from the court tV de- 
manded the navigator ; " for, since the failure of the mission of 
Juan de Penalosa, there is need of further orders from their 
Highnesses to enforce their gracious intentions." 

"I think not, Senor," answered the lay brother; " these 
hard-riding couriers of the queen generally appearing with their 
steeds in a foam, and with hurried air and blustering voices ; 
whereas this young cavalier behaveth modestly, and rideth a 
stout Andalusian mule.' 1 

" Did he give thee his name, good Sancho !" 

t; He gave me two, Senor, styling himself Pedro de Muiios, 
or Pedro Gutierrez, without the Don." 

"This is well," exclaimed Columbus, turning a little quickly 
toward the door, but otherwise maintaining a perfect self-com- 
mand; "I expect the youth, and he is right welcome. Let 
him come in at once, good Sancho, and that without any use- 
less ceremony." 

" An acquaintance of the court, Senor?" observed the prior, 
in the way one indirectly asks a question. 

" A youth that hath the spirit, father, to adventure life and 
character for the glory of God, through the advancement of his 
church, by embarking in our enterprise. He cometh of a rep- 
utable lineage, and is not without the gifts of fortune. But 
for the care of guardians, and his own youth, gold would not 
have been wanting in our need. As it is, he ventureth his own 
person, if one can be said to risk aught in an expedition that 
seemeth truly to set even the orders of their Highnesses at 
defiance." 

As Columbus ceased speaking, the door opened and Luis de 
Bobadilla entered. The young grandee had laid aside all the 
outward evidences of his high rank, and now appeared in the 



182 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

modest guise of a traveller belonging to a class more likely to 
furnish a recruit for the voyage, than one of the rank he really 
was. Saluting Columbus with cordial and sincere respect, and 
the Franciscan with humble deference, the first at once per- 
ceived that this gallant and reckless spirit had truly engaged in 
the enterprise with a determination to use all the means that 
would enable him to go through with it. 

" Thou art welcome, Pedro," Columbus observed, as soon as 
Luis had made his salutations ; u thou hast reached the coast 
at a moment when thy presence and support may be exceed- 
ingly useful. The first order of Her Highness, by which I 
should have received the services of the tw T o caravels to which 
the state is entitled, hath been utterly disregarded ; and a sec- 
ond mandate, empowering me to seize upon any vessel that 
may suit our necessities, hath fared but little better, notwith- 
standing the Senor de Penalosa was sent directly from court to 
enforce its conditions, under a penalty, to the port, of paying a 
daily tax of two hundred maravedis, until the order should be 
fulfilled. The idiots have conjured all sorts of ills with which 
to terrify themselves and their neighbors, and I seem to be as 
far from the completion of my hopes as I was before I procured 
the friendship of this holy friar and the royal protection of 
Dona Isabella. It is a weary thing, my good Pedro, to waste 
a life in hopes defeated, with such an object in view as the 
spread of knowledge and the extension of the church !•" 

"I am the bearer of good tidings, Sefior," answered the 
young noble. " In coming hither from the town of Moguer, I 
journeyed with one Martin Alonzo Pinzon, a mariner with 
whom I have formerly voyaged, and we have Jiad much dis- 
course concerning your commission and difficulties. He tells 
me that he is known to you, Senor Colon, and I should judge 
from his discourse that he thinketh favorably of the chances." 

-"He doth — he doth, indeed, good Pedro, and hath often 
listened to my reasoning like a discreet and skilful navigator, as 
I make no question he really is. But didst thou say that thou 
wast known to him?" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 183 

" Seiior, I did. We have voyaged together as far as Cyprus, 
on one occasion, and, again, to tlse island of the English. In 
such long voyages, men get to some knowledge of each other's 
temperament and disposition, and, of a sooth, I think well of 
both, in this Senor Pinzon." 

" Thou art young to pass an opinion on a mariner of Martin 
Alonzo's years and experience, son," put in the friar; " a man 
of much repute in this vicinity, and of no little wealth. Nev- 
ertheless, I am rejoiced to hear that he continueth of the same 
mind as formerly, in relation to the great voyage ; for, of late, 
I did think even he had begun to waver." 

Don Luis had expressed himself of the great man of the 
vicinity, more like a Bobadilla than became his assumed 
name of Munos, and a glance from the eye of Columbus told 
him to forget his rank and to remember the disguise he had 
assumed. 

" This is truly encouraging," observed the navigator, " and 
openeth a brighter view of Cathay. Thou wast journeying 
between Moguer and Palos, I think thou saidst, when this 
discourse was had with our acquaintance, the good Martin 
Alonzo ?" 

" I was, Senor, and it was he who sent me hither in quest of 
the admiral. He gave you the title that the queen's favor hath 
bestowed, and I consider that no small sign of friendship, as 
most others with whom I have conversed in this vicinitj^ seem 
disposed to call you by any other name." 

" None need embark in this enterprise," returned the navi- 
gator, gravely, as if he would admonish the youth that this was 
an occasion on which he might withdraw from the adventure, if 
he saw fit, " who feel disposed to act differently, or who dis- 
trust my knowledge." 

" By San Pedro, my patron ! they tell another tale at Palos, 
and at Moguer, . Seiior Amirale," returned Luis, laughing ; " at 
which places, I hear, that no man whose skin hath been a little 
warmed by the sun of the ocean, dare show himself in the 
highways, lest he be sent to Cathay by a road that no one ever 



18i MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

yet travelled, except in fancy ! There is, notwithstanding, one 
free and willing volunteer, Ssnor Colon, who is disposed to 
follow you to the edge of the earth, if it be flat, and to follow 
you quite around it, should it prove to be a sphere ; and that 
is one Pedro de Munos, who engageth with you from no sordid 
love of gold, or love of aught else that men usually prize ; 
but from the pure love of adventure, somewhat excited and 
magnified, perhaps, by love of the purest and fairest maid of 
Castile." 

Fray Juan Perez gazed at the speaker, whose free manner 
and open speech a good deal surprised him ; for Columbus had 
succeeded in awakening so much respect that few presumed to 
use any levity in his presence, even before he was dignified by 
the high rank so recently conferred by the commission of Isa- ' 
bella. Little did the good monk suspect that one of a still 
higher personal rank, though entirely without official station, 
stood before him, in the guise of Pedro de Munos ; and he 
could not refrain from again expressing the little relish he felt 
for such freedom of speech and deportment toward those whom 
he himself habitually regarded with so much respect. 

"It would seem, Senor Pedro de Munos," he said, "if that 
be thy name — though duke, or marquis, or count, would be a 
title better becoming thy bearing — that thou treatest His Excel- 
lency the Admiral with quite as much freedom of thought, at 
least, as thou treatest the worthy Martin Alonzo of our own 
neighborhood ; a follower should be more humble, and not pass 
his jokes on the opinions of his leader, in this loose style of 
expression." 

" I crave your pardon, holy father, and that of the admiral, 
too, who better understandeth me I trust, if there be any just 
grounds of offence. All I wish to express is, that I know this 
Martin Alonzo of your neighborhood, as an old fellow-voy- 
ager ; that we have ridden some leagues in company this very 
day, and that, after close discourse, he hath manifested a friend- 
ly desire to put his shoulder to the wheel, in order to lift the 
expedition, if not from a slough of mud, at least from the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 185 

sands of the river ; and that he hath promised to come also to 
this good convent of La Rabida, for that same purpose and no 
other. As for myself, I can only add, that here I am, ready 
to follow wheresoever the honorable Senor Colon may see fit to 
lead." 

"'Tis well, good Pedro — 'tis well," rejoined the admiral. 
" I give thee full credit for sincerity and spirit, and that must 
content thee until an opportunity offereth to convince others. 
I like these tidings concerning Martin Alonzo, father, since he 
might truly do us much good service, and his zeal had assuredly 
beo;un to flag." 

' ' That might he, and that will he, if he engageth seriously 
in the affair. Martin is the greatest navigator on all this coast, 
for, though I did not know that he had ever been even to Cy- 
prus, as would appear by the account of this youth, I was well 
aware that he had frequently sailed as far north as France, and 
as far south as the Canaries. Dost think Cathay much more 
remote than Cyprus, Senor Almirante ?" 

Columbus smiled at this question, and shook his head in the 
manner of one who would prepare a friend for some sore disap- 
pointment. 

" Although Cyprus be not distant from the Holy Land and 
the seat of the Infidel's power," he answered, " Cathay must 
lie much more remote. I flatter not myself, nor those who are 
disposed to follow me, with the hope of reaching the Indies 
short of a voyage that shall extend to some eight hundred or a 
thousand leagues." 

" 'Tis a fearful and a weary distance !" exclaimed the Fran- 
ciscan ; while Luis stood in smiling unconcern, equally indiffer- 
ent whether he had to traverse one thousand or ten thousand 
leagues of ocean, so that the journey led to Mercedes and was 
productive of adventure. " A fearful and weary distance, and 
yet I doubt not, Senor Almirante, that you are the very man 
designed by Providence to overcome it, and to open the way 
for those who will succeed you, bearing on high the cross of 
Christ and the promises of his redemption!" 



186 MERCEDES OF C4STILE. 

" Let us hope this," returned Columbus, reverently making 
the usual sign of the sacred emblem to which his friend alluded ; 
" as a proof that we have some worldly foundation for the ex- 
pectation, here cometh the Selior Pinzon himself, apparently 
hot with haste to see us." 

Martin Alonzo Pinzon, whose name is so familiar to the 
reader, as one who greatly aided the Genoese in his vast under- 
taking, now entered the room, seemingly earnest and bent on 
some fixed purpose, as Columbus' observant eye had instantly 
detected. Fray Juan Perez was not a little surprised to see 
that the first salutation of Martin Alonzo, the great man of the 
neighborhood, was directed to Pedro, the second to the admiral, 
and the third to himself. There was not time, however, for the 
worthy Franciscan, who was a little apt to rebuke any derelic- 
tion of decency on the spot, to express what he felt on this oc- 
casion, ere Martin Alonzo opened his errand with an eagerness 
that showed he had not come on a mere visit of friendship, or 
of ceremony. 

" I am sorely vexed, Sefior Almirante," he commenced, "at 
learning the obstinacy, and the disobedience to the orders of 
the queen, that have been shown among our mariners of Palos. 
Although a dweller of the port itself, and one who hath always 
viewed your opinions of this western voyage with respect, if not 
with absolute faith, I did not know the full extent of this insub- 
ordination until I met, by accident, an old acquaintance on the 
highway, in the person of Don Pedro — I ought to say the 
Senor Pedro de Muiios, here, who, coming from a distance as 
he doth, hath discovered more of our backslidings than I had 
learned myself, on the spot. But, Seiior, you are not now to 
hear for the first time, of what sort of stuff men are made. 
They are reasoning beings, we are told ; notwithstanding which 
undeniable truth, as there is not one in a hundred who is at the 
trouble to do his own thinking, means may be found to change 
the opinions of a sufficient number for all your wants, without 
their even suspecting it." 

" This is very true, neighbor Martin Alonzo," put in the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 187 

friar — " so true, that it might go into a homily and do no 
disservice to religion. Man is a rational animal, and an ac- 
countable animal, but it is not meet that he should be a think- 
ing animal. In matters of the church, now, its interests being 
entrusted to a ministry, what have the unlearned and ignorant 
to say of its affairs ? In matters of navigation, it doth, indeed, 
seem as if one steersman were better than a hundred ! Although 
man be a reasoning animal, there are quite as many occasions 
when he is bound to obey without reasoning, and few when he 
should be permitted to reason without obeying." 

"All true, holy friar and most excellent neighbor; so true 
that you will find no one in Palos to deny that, at least. And 
now we are on the subject, I may as well add that it is the 
church that hath thrown more obstacles in the way of the Senor 
Almirante's success, than any other cause. All the old women 
of the port declare that the notion of the earth's being round is 
a heresy, and contrary to the Bible ; and, if the truth must be 
said, there are not a few underlings of this very convent, who 
uphold them in the opinion. It doth appear unnatural to tell 
one who hath never quitted the land, and who seeth himself 
much oftener in a valley than on an eminence, that the globe 
is round, and, though I have had many occasions to see the 
ocean, it would not easily find credit with me, were it not for 
the fact that we see the upper and smaller sails of a ship first, 
when approaching her, as well as the vanes and crosses of towns, 
albeit they are the smaller objects about vessels and churches. 
We mariners have one way to inspirit our followers, and you 
churchmen have another ; and, now that I intend to use my 
means to put wiser thoughts into the heads of the seamen of 
Palos, reverend friar, I look to you to set the church's engines 
at work, so as to silence the women, and to quell the doubts of 
the most zealous among your own brotherhood." 

" Am I to understand by this, Senor Pinzon," demanded 
Columbus, "that you intend to take a direct and more earnest 
interest than before in the success of my enterprise ?" 

" Senor, you may. That is my intention, if we can come to 



188 MERCEDES E CASTILE. 

as favorable an understanding about the terms, as your worship 
would seem to have entered into with our most honored mis- 
tress, Dona Isabella de Trastamara. I have had some discourse 
with Senor Don — I would say with the Senor Pedro de Munos, 
here — odd's folly, an excess of courtesy is getting to be a vice 
with me of late — but as he is a youth of prudence, and mani- 
fests a desire to embark with you, it hath stirred my fancy so 
far, that I would gladly be of the party. Senor de Munos and 
I have voyaged so much together, that I Avould fain see his 
worthy countenance once more upon the ocean." 

" These are cheerful tidings, Martin Alonzo" — eagerly put 
in the friar, " and thy soul, and the souls of all who belong to 
you, will reap the benefits of this manly and pious resolution. 
It is one thing, Senor Almirante, to have their Highnesses of 
your side, in a place like Palos, and another to have our worthy 
neighbor Pinzon, here ; for, if they are sovereigns in law, he is 
an emperor in opinion. I doubt not that the caravels will now 
be speedily forthcoming." 

" Since thou seemest to have truly resolved to enter into our 
enterprise, Senor Martin Alonzo," added Columbus, with his 
dignified gravity, " out of doubt, thou hast well bethought thee 
of the conditions, and art come prepared to let them be known. 
Do they savor of the terms that have already been in discussion 
between us ?" 

" Senor Admiral, they do ; though gold is not, just now, as 
abundant in our purses, as when we last discoursed on this sub- 
ject. On that head, some obstacles may exist, but on all 
others, I doubt not, a brief explanation between us will leave 
the matter free from doubt." 

" As to the eighth, for which I stand committed with their 
Highnesses, Senor Pinzon, there will be less reason, now, to 
raise that point between us, than when we last met, as other 
means may offer to redeem that pledge" — as Columbus spoke, 
his eyes involuntarily turned toward the pretended Pedro, whither 
those of Martin Alonzo Pinzon significantly followed; " but 
there will be many difficulties to overcome with these terrified 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 189 

and silly mariners, which may yield to thy influence. If thou 
wilt come with me into this chamber, we will at once discuss 
the heads of our treaty, leaving this youth, the while, to the 
hospitality of our reverend friend." 

The prior raising no objection to this proposition, it was im- 
mediately put in execution, Columbus and Pinzon withdrawing 
to a more private apartment, leaving Fray Juan Perez alone 
with our hero. 

" Then thou thinkest seriously, son, of making one in this 
great enterprise of the admiral's," said the Franciscan, as soon 
as the door was closod on those who had just left them, eyeing 
Luis, for the first time, with a more strict scrutiny than hith- 
erto he had leisure to exercise. "Thou earnest thyself much 
like the young lords of the court, and wilt have occasion to 
acquire a less towering air in the narrow limits of one of our 
Palos caravels." 

" I am no stranger to Nao, Carraca, Fusta, Pinaza, Cara- 
belon, or Felucca, holy prior, and shall carry myself with the 
admiral, as I should carry myself before Don Fernando of Ara- 
gon, were he my fellow-voyager, or in the presence of Boabdil 
of Grenada, were that unhappy monarch again seated on the 
throne from which he hath been so lately hurled, urging his 
chivalry to charge the knights of Christian Spain." 

" These are fine words, son, ay, and uttered with a tilting 
air, if truth must be said ; but they will avail thee nothing 
with this Genoese, who hath that in him, that would leave him 
unabashed even in the presence of our gracious lady, Dona Isa- 
bella, herself." 

" Thou knowest the queen, holy monk ?" inquired Luis, for- 
getting his assumed character, in the freedom of his address. 

" I ought to know her inmost heart, son, for often have 
I listened to her pure and meek spirit, in the secrets of the 
confessional. Much as she is beloved by us Castilians, no one 
can know the true, spiritual elevation of that pious princess, 
and most excellent woman, but they who have had occasion to 
shrive her." 



190 MEECEDES OF CASTILE. 

Don Luis hemmed, played with the handle of his rapier, 
and then gave utterance to the uppermost thought, as usual. 

" Didst thou, by any chance of thy priestly office, father, 
ever find it necessary to confess a maiden of the court, who 
is much esteemed by the queen !" he inquired, " and whose 
spirit, I'll answer for it, is as pure as that of Dona Isabella's 
itself." 

" Son, thy question denoteth greater necessity for repairing 
to Salamanca, in order to be instructed in the history, and 
practices, and faith of the church, than to be entering into an 
enterprise, even as commendable as this of Colon's ! Dost 
thou not know that we churchmen are not permitted to betray 
the secrets of the confessional, or to draw comparisons between 
penitents ? and, moreover, that we do not take even Dona Isa- 
bella, the blessed Maria keep her ever in mind, as the standard 
of holiness to which all Christians are expected to aim ? The 
maiden of whom thou speakest may be virtuous, according to 
worldly notions, and yet a grievous sinner in the eyes of mother 
church." 

" I should like, before I quit Spain, to hear a Mendoza, or a 
Guzman, who hath not a shaven crown, venture to hint as much, 
most reverend prior !" 

u Thou art hot and restive, and talkest idly, son ; what would 
one like thee find to say to a Guzman, or a Mendoza, or a Bo- 
badilla, even, did he affirm what thou wishest ? But, who is the 
maid, in whom thy feelings seem to take so deep, although I 
question if it be not an unrequited, interest ?" 

" Nay, I did but speak in idleness. Our stations have made 
such a chasm between us, that it is little likely we should ever 
come to speech ; nor is my merit such as would be apt to cause 
her to forget her high advantages." 

"Still, she hath a name ?" 

" She hath, truly, prior, and a right noble one it is. I had 
the Dona Maria de las Mercedes de Valverde in my thoughts, 
when the light remark found utterance. Haply, thou may'st 
know that illustrious heiress ?" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 191 

Fray Juan Perez, a truly guileless priest, started at the 
name ; then he gazed intently, and with a sort of pity, at the 
youth ; after which he bent his head toward the tiles beneath 
his feet, smiled, and shook his head like one whose thoughts 
were very active. 

"I do, indeed, know the lady," he said, "and even when 
last at court, on this errand of Colon's, their own confessor 
being ill, I shrived her, as well as my royal mistress. That she 
is worthy of Dona Isabella's esteem is true ; but thy admira- 
tion for this noble maiden, which must be something like the 
distant reverence we feel for the clouds that sail above our 
heads, can scarce be founded on any rational hopes." 

"Thou canst not know that, father. If this expedition end 
as we trust, all who engage in it will be honored and advanced ; 
and why not I, as well as another ?" 

" In this, thou may'st utter truth, but as for the Doiia — " 
The Franciscan checked himself, for he was about to betray the 
secret of the confessional. He had, in truth, listened to the 
contrition of Mercedes, of which her passion for Luis was the 
principal cause ; and it was he who, with a species of pious 
fraud of which he was himself unconscious, had first pointed 
out the means by which the truant noble might be made to 
turn his propensity to rove to the profit of his love ; and his 
mind was full of her beautiful exhibition of purity and natural 
feeling, nearly even to overflowing. But habit and duty inter- 
fered in time, and he did not utter the name that had been 
trembling on his lips. Still, his thoughts continued in this 
current, and his tongue gave utterance to that portion of them 
which he believed to be harmless. " Thou hast been much 
about the world, it would seem, by Master Alonzo's greeting," 
he continued, after a short pause ; " didst ever meet, son, with 
a certain cavalier of Castile, named Don Luis de Bobadilla — a 
grandee, who also bears the title of Conde de Llera VI 

" I know little of his hopes, and care less for his titles," re- 
turned Luis, calmly, who thought he would manifest a magnan- 
imous indifference to the Franciscan's opinions — " but I have 



102 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

seen the cavalier, and a roving, mad-brained, graceless youth, it 
is, of whom no good can be expected." 

" I fear this is but too true," rejoined Fray Juan Perez, shak- 
ing his head in a melancholy manner — " and yet they say he is 
a gallant knight, and the very best lance in all Spain." 

" Ay, he may be that," answered Luis, hemming a little loud- 
er than was decorous, for his throat began to grow husky — 
" Ay, he may be that ; but of what avail is a good lance with- 
out a good character. I hear little commendable of this young 
Conde de Llera." 

" I trust he is not the man he generally passeth for," — an- 
swered the simple-hearted monk, without in the least suspecting 
his companion's disguise ; " and I do know that there are some 
who think well of him — nay, whose existence, I might say 
whose very souls, are wrapped up in him !" 

" Holy Franciscan ! — why wilt thou not mention the names 
of one or two of these V demanded Luis, with an impetuosity 
that caused the prior to start. 

" And why should I give this information to thee, young 
man, more than to another?" 

"Why, father — why, for several most excellent and un- 
answerable reasons. In the first place, I am a youth myself, as 
thou seest ; and example, they say, is better than precept. Then, 
too, / am somewhat given to roving, and it may profit me to 
know how others of the same propensity have sped. More- 
over, it would gladden my inmost heart to hear that — but two 
sufficient reasons are better than three, and thou hast the first 
number already." 

Fray Juan Perez, a devout Christian, a learned churchman, 
and a liberal scholar, was as simple as a child in matters that 
related to the world and its passions. Nevertheless, he was not 
so dull as to overlook the strange deportment and stranger lan- 
guage of his companion. A direction had been given to his 
thoughts by the mention of the name of our heroine ; and, as 
he himself had devised the very course taken by our hero, the 
truth began to dawn on his imagination. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 193 

"Young cavalier," lie exclaimed, u thou art Don Luis de 
Bobadilla !" 

" I shall never deny the prophetic knowledge of a church- 
man, worthy father, after this detection ! I am he thou sayest, 
entered on this expedition to win the love of Mercedes de 
Valverde." 

" "lis as I thought — and yet, Senor, you might have taken 
our poor convent less at an advantage. Suffer that I command 
the lay brothers to place refreshments before you !" 

" Thy pardon, excellent prior — Pedro de Munos, or even 
Pero Gutierrez, hath no need of food; but, now that thou 
knowest me, there can be less reason for not conversing of the 
Dona Mercedes 8" 

" Now that I know thee, Senor Conde, there is greater rea- 
son for silence on that head," returned Fray Juan Perez, smil- 
ing. " Thine aunt, the most esteemecf and virtuous lady of 
Moya, can give thee all occasion to urge thy suit with this 
charming maiden, and it would ill become a churchman to 
temper her prudence by any indiscreet interference." 

This explanation was the commencement of a long and con- 
fidential dialogue, in which the worthy prior, now that he was 
on his guard, succeeded in preserving his main secret, though 
he much encouraged the young man in the leading hope of his 
existence, as well as in his project to adhere to the fortunes of 
Columbus. In the mean while, the great navigator himself con- 
tinued closeted with his new counsellor ; and when the two re- 
appeared, it was announced to those without that the latter had 
engaged in the enterprise with so much zeal, that he actually 
entertained the intention of embarking on board of one of the 
caravels in person. 



194 MERCEDES OF CASTILE 



CHAPTER XII. 

" Yet he to whom each danger hath become 
A dark delight, and every wild a home, 
Still urges onward — undismayed to tread 
Where life's fond lovers would recoil with dread. 1 ' 

The Abencerrage. 

The intelligence that Martin Alonzo Pinzon was to make one 
of the followers of Colon, spread through the village of Palos 
like wild-fire. Volunteers were no longer wanting ; the exam- 
ple of one known and respected in the vicinity, operating far 
more efficiently on the minds of the mariners, than the orders 
of the queen or the philosophy of Columbus. Martin Alonzo 
they knew ; they were accustomed to submit to his influence ; 
they could follow in his footsteps, and had confidence in his 
judgment ; whereas, the naked orders of an unseen sovereign, 
however much beloved, had more of the character of a severe 
judgment than of a generous enterprise ; and as for Columbus, 
though most men were awed by his dignified appearance and 
grave manner, when out of sight he was as much regarded as 
an adventurer at Palos, as he had been at Santa Fe. 

The Pinzons set about their share of the expedition after the 
manner of those who were more accustomed to execute than to 
plan. Several of the family entered cordially into the work ; 
and a brother of Martin Alonzo' s, whose name was Vincente 
Yanez, also a mariner by profession, joined the adventurers as 
commander of one of the vessels, while another took service as 
a pilot. In short, the month that succeeded the incidents just 
mentioned, was actively employed, and more was done in that 
short space of time toward bringing about a solution of the 
great problem of Columbus, than had been accomplished, in a 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 195 

practical way, during the seventeen long years that the subject 
had occupied his time and engrossed his thoughts. 

Notwithstanding the local influence of the Pinzons, a vigor- 
ous opposition to the project still existed in the heart of the 
little community that had been chosen for the place of equip- 
ment of the different vessels required. This family had its 
enemies as well as its friends, and, as is usual with most human 
undertakings, two parties sprang up, one of which was quite as 
busily occupied in thwarting the plans of the navigator, as the 
other was engaged in promoting them. One vessel had been 
seized for the service, under the order of the court, and her own- 
ers became leaders of the dissatisfied faction. Many seamen, ac- 
cording to the usage of that day, had been impressed for duty 
on this extraordinary and mysterious voyage ; and, as a matter 
of course, they and their friends were not slow to join the ranks 
of the disaffected. Much of the necessary work was found to 
be imperfectly done ; and when the mechanics were called on 
to repair these omissions, they absconded in a body. As the 
time for sailing approached, the contention grew more and more 
violent, and even the Pinzons had the mortification of discover- 
ing that many of those who had volunteered to follow their for- 
tunes, began to waver, and that some had unequivocally deserted. 

Such was the state of things, toward the close of the month 
of July, when Martin Alonzo Pinzon again repaired to the con- 
vent of Santa Maria de Rabida, where Columbus continued to 
pass most of the time that was not given to a direct personal 
superintendence of the preparations, and where Luis de Boba- 
dilla, who was altogether useless in the actual condition of 
affairs, also passed many a weary hour, chafing for active duty, 
and musing on the loveliness, truth, and virtues of Mercedes de 
Valverde. Fray Juan Perez was earnest in his endeavors to 
facilitate the execution of the objects of his friends, and he had 
actually succeeded, if not in absolutely suppressing the expres- 
sion of all injurious opinion on the part of the less enlightened 
of the brotherhood, at least in rendering the promulgation of 
them more cautious and private. 



196 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

When Columbus and the prior were told that the Senor 
Pinzon sought an interview, neither was slow in granting the 
favor. As the hour of departure drew nigh, the importance of 
this man's exertions became more and more apparent, and both 
well knew that the royal protection of Isabella herself, just at 
that moment and in that place, was of less account than that of 
this active mariner. The Senor Pinzon, therefore, had not long 
t o wait for his audience, having been ushered into the room that 
was commonly occupied by the zealous Franciscan, almost as 
soon as his request was preferred. 

"Thou art right welcome, worthy Martin Alonzo !" ex- 
claimed the prior, the moment he caught a glimpse of the fea- 
tures of his old acquaintance — "How get on matters at Palos, 
and when shall we have this holy undertaking in a fair direction 
for success V 

" By San Francisco, reverend prior, that is more than it will 
be safe for any man to answer. I have thought we were in a 
fair way to make sail, a score of times, when some unforeseen 
difficulty hath arisen. The Santa Maria, on board which the 
admiral and the Senor Gutierrez, or de Munos, if he will have 
it so, will embark, is already fitted. She may be. set down as 
a tight craft, and somewhat exceedeth a hundred tons in bur- 
then, so that I trust his excellency, and all the gallant cavaliers 
who may accompany him, will be as comfortable as the holy 
monks of Eabida — more especially as the good caravel hath a 
deck." 

" These are, truly, glad tidings," returned the prior, rubbing 
his hands with delight — " and the excellent craft hath really a 
deck ! Senor Almirante, thou mayst not be in a vessel that is 
altogether worthy of thy high aim, but, on the whole, thou wilt 
be both safe and comfortable, keeping in view, in particular, this 
convenient and sheltering deck." 

" Neither my safety nor my convenience is a consideration 
to be mentioned, friend Juan Perez, when there is question of 
so much graver matters. I rejoice that thou hast come to the 
convent this morning, Senor Martin Alonzo, as, being about to 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 197 

address letters to the court, by means of an especial courier, I 
desire to know the actual condition of things. Thou thinkest 
the Santa Maria will be in a state for service by the end of the 
month ?" 

" Senor, I do. The ship hath been prepared with due dili- 
gence, and will conveniently hold some three score, should the 
panic that hath seized on so many of the besotted fools of 
Palos, leave us that number, who may still be disposed to em- 
bark. I trust that the saints look upon our many efforts, and 
will remember our zeal when we shall come to a joint division 
of the benefits of this undertaking, which hath had no equal in 
the history of navigation !" 

" The benefits, honest Martin Alonzo, will be found in the 
spread of the church's dominion, and the increased glory of 
God !" put in the prior, significantly. 

" Out of all question, holy Fray Juan Perez — this is the 
common aim ; though I trust it is permitted to a pains-taking 
mariner to bethink him of his wife and children, in discreet 
subordination to those greater ends. I have much mistaken 
the Senor Colon, if he do not look for some little advantage, in 
the way of gold, from this visit to Cathay.' ' 

" Thou hast not mistaken me, honest Martin Alonzo," re- 
turned Columbus, gravely. "I do, indeed, expect to see the 
wealth of the Indies pouring into the coffers of Castile, in con- 
sequence of this voyage. In sooth, excellent prior, in my 
view, the recovery of the holy sepulchre is dependent mainly 
on the success of our present undertaking, in the way of a sub- 
stantial worldly success." 

" This is well, Senor Admiral," put in Martin Alonzo, a little 
hastily, " and ought to gain us great favor in the eyes of all 
good Christians — more especially with the monks of la Eabida. 
But it is hard enough to persuade the mariners of the port to 
obey the queen, in this matter, and to fulfil their engagements 
with ourselves, without preaching a crusade, as the best means 
of throwing away the few maravedis they may happen to gain 
by their hardships and courage. The worthy pilots, Francisco 
9 



198 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Martin Pinzon, mine own "brother, Sancho Ruiz, Pedro Alonzo 
Nino, and Bartolemeo Roldan, are all now firmly tied to us by 
the ropes of the law ; but should they happen to find a crusade 
at their end, all the saints in the calendar would scarce have 
influence to make them hesitate about loosening themselves 
from the agreement." 

"I hold no one but myself bound to this object," returned 
Columbus, calmly. "Each man, friend Martin Alonzo, will 
be judged by his own deeds, and called on to fulfil his own 
vows. Of those who pledge naught, naught will be exacted, 
and naught given at the great final account of the human race. 
But what are the tidings of the Pinta, thine own vessel ? Hath 
she been finally put into a condition to buffet the Atlantic ?" 

" As ever happeneth with a vessel pressed into the royal 
service, Senor, work hath gone on heavily, and things in gene- 
ral have not borne that merry activity which accompanieth the 
labor of those who toil of a free will, and for their own benefit." 

"The silly mariners have toiled in their own behalf, without 
knowing it," observed Columbus. " It is the duty of the igno- 
rant to submit to be led by the more enlightened, and to be 
grateful for the advantages they derive from a borrowed knowl- 
edge, albeit it is obtained contrary to their own wishes." 

" That is it, truly," added the prior ; " else would the office 
of us churchmen be reduced to very narrow limits. Faith — 
faith in the church — is the Christian's earliest and latest duty." 

" This seemeth reasonable, excellent sirs," returned Master 
Alonzo, "though the ignorant find it difficult to comprehend 
matters that they do not understand. When a man fancieth 
himself condemned to an unheard-of death, he is little apt to 
see the benefit that lieth beyond the grave. Nevertheless, the 
Pinta is more nearly ready for the voyage, than any other of 
our craft, and hath her crew engaged to a man, and that under 
contracts that will not permit much dispute before a notary." 

u There remaineth only the Nina, then," added Columbus ; 
" with her prepared, and our religious duties observed, we may 
hope finally to commence the enterprise !" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 190 

" Senor, you may. My brother, Vicente Yanez, hath finally 
consented to take charge of this little craft ; and that which a 
Pinzon promiseth, a Pinzon performeth. She will be ready to 
depart with the Santa Maria and the Pinta, and Cathay must 
be distant, indeed, if we do not reach it with one or the other 
of our vessels." 

"This is right encouraging, neighbor Martin Alonzo," re- 
turned the friar, rubbing his hands with delight; "and I make 
no question all will come round in the end.- What say the 
crones and loose talkers of Moguer, and of the other ports, 
touching the shape of the earth, and the chances of the ad- 
miral's reaching the Indies, now-a-days ?" 

"They discourse much as they did, Fray Juan Perez, idly 
and without knowledge. Although there is not a mariner in 
any of the havens who doth not admit that the upper sails, 
though so much the smallest, are the first seen on the ocean, 
yet do they deny that this cometh of the shape of the earth, 
but, as they affirm, of the movements of the waters." 

" Have none of them ever observed the shadows cast by the 
earth, in the eclipses of the moon?" asked Columbus, in his 
calm manner, though he smiled, even in putting the question, 
as one smiles who, having dipped deeply into a natural problem 
himself, carelessly lays one of its more popular proofs before 
those who are less disposed to go beneath the surface. " Do 
they not see that these shadows are round, and do they not 
know that a shadow which is round can only be cast by a body 
that is round !" % 

" This is conclusive, good Martin Alonzo," put in the prior, 
"audit ought to remove the doubts of the silliest gossip on 
the coast. Tell them to encircle their dwellings, beginning to 
the right, and see if, by following the walls, they do not return 
to the spot from which they started, coming in from the left." 

" Ay, reverend prior, if we could bring our distant voyage 
down to these familiar examples, there is not a crone in 
Moguer, or a courtier at Seville, that might not be made to 
comprehend the mystery. But it is one thing to state a prob- 



200 MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 

lem fairly, and another to find those who can understand it. 
Now, I did give some such reasoning to the Alguiazil, in Palos 
here, and the worthy Senor asked me if I expected to return 
from this voyage by the way of the lately captured town of 
Granada. I fancy that the easiest method of persuading these 
good people to believe that Cathay can be reached by the 
western voyage, will be by going there and returning.' ' 

" Which we will shortly do, Master Martin Alonzo," ob- 
served Columbus, cheerfully — "But the time of our departure 
draweth near, and it is meet that none of us neglect the duties 
of religion. I commend thee to thy confessor, Senor Pinzon, 
and expect that all who sail with me, in this great enterprise, 
will receive the holy communion in my company, bef6re we 
quit the haven. This excellent prior will shrive Pedro de 
Munos and myself, and let each man seek such other holy coun- 
sellor and monitor as hath been his practice." 

With this intimation of his intention to pay a due regard 
to the rites of the church before he departed — rites that were 
seldom neglected in that day — the conversation turned, for the 
moment, on the details of the preparations. After this the 
parties separated, and a few more days passed away in active 
exertions. 

On the morning of Thursday, August the second, 1492, 
Columbus entered the private apartment of Fray Juan Perez, 
habited like a penitent, and with an air so devout, and yet so 
calm, that it was evident his thoughts were altogether bent on 
his own transgressions and*on the goodness of God. The 
zealous priest was in waiting, and the great navigator knelt at 
the feet of him, before whom Isabella had often knelt, in the 
fulfilment of the same solemnity. The religion of this extra- 
ordinary man was colored by the habits and opinions of his 
age, as, indeed, in a greater or less degree, must be the religion 
of every man ; his confession, consequently, had that admix- 
ture of deep piety with inconsistent error, that so often meets 
the moralist in his investigations into the philosophy of the 
human mind. The truth of this peculiarity will be seen, by 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 201 

adverting to one or two of the admissions of the great naviga- 
tor, as he laid before his ghostly counsellor the catalogue of his 
sins. 

"Then, I fear, holy father," Columbus continued, after hav- 
ing made most of the usual confessions touching the more 
familiar weaknesses of the human race, " that my mind hath 
become too much exalted in this matter of the-voyage, and that 
I may have thought myself more directly set apart by God, for 
some good end, than it might please his infinite knowledge and 
wisdom to grant." 

" That would be a dangerous error, my son, and I carefully 
admonish thee against the evils of self-righteousness. That 
God selecteth his agents, is beyond dispute ; but it is a fearful 
error to mistake the impulses of self-love, for the movements 
of his Divine Spirit ! It is hardly safe for any who have 
not received the church's ordination, to deem themselves chosen 
vessels." 

" I endeavor so to consider it, holy friar," answered Colum- 
bus, meekly; " and, yet, there is that within, which constantly 
urgeth to this belief, be it a delusion, or come it directly 
from heaven. I strive, father, to keep the feeling in subjection, 
and most of all do I endeavor to see that it taketh a direction 
that may glorify the name of God and serve the interests of his 
visible church." 

" This is well, and yet do I feel it a duty to admonish thee 
against too much credence in these inward impulses. So long 
as they tend, solely, to increase thy love for the Supreme 
Father of all, to magnify his holiness, and glorify his nature, 
thou may'st be certain it is the offspring of good ; but when 
self-exaltation seemeth to be its aim, beware the impulse, as 
thou wouldst eschew the dictation of the great father of evil !" 

" I so consider it ; and now having truly and sincerely dis- 
burdened my conscience, father, so far as in me lieth, may I 
hope for the church's consolation, with its absolution ?" 

" Canst thou think of naught else, son, that should not lie 
hid from before the keeper of all consciences !" 



202 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" My sins are many, holy prior, and cannot be too often o^ 
too keenly rebuked ; but I do tliink that they may be fairly 
included in the general heads that I have endeavored to recal." 

"Hast thou nothing to charge thyself with, in connection 
with that sex that the devil as often useth as his tempters to 
evil, as the angels would fain employ them as the ministers of 
grace?" 

" I have erred as a man, father ; but do not my confessions 
already meet those sins V 

" Hast thou bethought thee of Dona Beatriz Enriquez ? of 
thy son Fernando, who tarrieth, at this moment, in our con- 
vent of la Rabida V] 

Columbus bowed his head in submission, and the heavy sigh, 
amounting almost to a groan, that broke out of his bosom, be- 
trayed the weight of his momentary contrition. 

" Thou say'st true, father ; that is an offence which should 
never be forgotten, though so often shrived since its commis- 
sion. Heap on me the penance that I feel is due, and thou 
shalt see how a Christian can bend and kiss the rod that he is 
conscious of having merited." 

" The spirit thus to do is all that the church requireth ; and 
thou art now bent on a service too important to her interests to 
be drawn aside from thy great intentions, for any minor consid- 
erations. Still may not a minister of the altar overlook the 
offence. Thou wilt say a pater, daily, on account of this great 
sin, for the next twenty days, all of which will be for the good 
of thy soul ; after which the church releaseth thee from this 
especial duty, as thou wilt, then, be drawing near to the land of 
Cathay, and may have occasion for ail thy thoughts and effort? 
to effect thy object." 

The worthy prior then proceeded to prescribe several light 
penances, most of which were confined to moderate increases 
of the daily duties of religion ; after which he shrived the navi- 
gator. The turn of Luis came next, and more than once the 
prior smiled involuntarily, as he listened to this hot-blooded 
and impetuous youth, whose language irresistibly carried back 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 208 

his thoughts to the more meek, natural, and the more gentle 
admissions of the pure-minded Mercedes. The penance pre- 
scribed to Luis was not entirely free from severity, though, on 
the whole, the young man, who was not much addicted to the 
duties of the confessional, fancied himself well quit of the 
affair, considering the length of the account he was obliged to 
render, and the weight of the balance against him. 

These duties performed in the persons of the two principal 
adventurers, Martin Alonzo Pinzon and the ruder mariners of 
the expedition appeared before different priests and gave in the 
usual reckoning of their sins. After this came a scene that was 
strictly characteristic of the age, and which would be impressive 
and proper, in all times and seasons, for men about to embark 
in an undertaking of a result so questionable. 

High mass was said in the chapel of the convent, and Colum- 
bus received the consecrated bread from the hands of Fray Juan 
Perez, in humble reliance on the all-seeing providence of God, 
and with a devout dependence on his fostering protection. All 
who were about to embark with the admiral imitated his exam- 
ple, communing in his company ; for that was a period when 
the wire-drawn conclusions of man had not yet begun so far to 
supplant the faith and practices of the earlier church as to con- 
sider its rites as the end of religion, but he was still content to 
regard them as its means. Many a rude sailor, whose ordinary 
life might not have been either saintly or even free from severe 
censure, knelt that day at the altar, in devout dependence on 
God, with feelings, for the moment, that at least placed him on 
the highway to grace ; and it would be presumptuous to suppose 
that the omniscient Being to whom his offerings were made, 
did not regard his ignorance with commiseration, and even 
look upon his superstition with pity. We scoff at the prayers 
of those who are in danger, without reflecting that they are a 
homage to the power of God, and are apt to fancy that these 
passages in devotion are mere mockery, because the daily mind 
and the ordinary life are not always elevated to the same stand- 
ard of godliness and purity. It would be more humble to re- 



204 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

member the general infirmities of the race ; to recollect, that 
as none are perfect, the question, is reduced to one of degree ; 
and to bear in mind, that the Being who reads the heart, may 
accept of any devout petitions, even though they come from 
those who are not disposed habitually to walk in his laws. 
These passing but pious emotions are the workings of the 
Spirit, since good can come from no other source ; and it is as 
unreasonable as it is irreverent to imagine that the Deity will 
disregard, altogether, the effects of his own grace, however 
humble. 

Whatever may have been the general disposition of most of 
the communicants on this occasion, there is little doubt that 
there knelt at the altar of la Kabida, that day, one in the per- 
son of the great navigator himself, who, as far as the eye could 
perceive, lived habitually in profound deference to the dogmas 
of religion, and who paid an undeviating respect to all its rites. 
Columbus was not strictly a devotee ; but a quiet, deeply seated 
enthusiasm, which had taken the direction of Christianity, 
pervaded his moral system, and at all times disposed him to 
look up to the protecting hand of the Deity and to expect its 
aid. The high aims that he entertained for the future have 
already been mentioned, and there is little doubt of his having 
persuaded himself that he had been set apart by Providence as 
the instrument it designed to employ in making the great dis- 
covery on which his mind was so intently engaged, as well as 
in accomplishing other and ulterior purposes. If, indeed, an 
overruling Power directs all the events of this world, who will 
presume to say that this conviction of Columbus was erroneous, 
now that it has been justified by the result ? That he felt this 
sentiment sustaining his courage and constantly urging him 
onward, is so much additional evidence in favor of his impres- 
sion, since, under such circumstances, nothing is more probable 
than that an earnest belief in his destiny would be one of the 
means most likely to be employed by a supernatural power in 
inducing its human agent to accomplish the work for which he 
had actually been selected. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 205 

Let this be as it might, there is no doubt that Colon observed 
the rites of the church, on the occasion named, with a most 
devout reliance on the truth of his mission, and with the bright- 
est hopes as to its successful termination. Not so, however, 
with all of his intended followers. Their minds had wavered, 
from time to time, as the preparations advanced ; and the last 
month had seen them eager to depart, and dejected with mis- 
givings and doubts. Although there were days of hope and 
brightness, despondency perhaps prevailed, and this so much 
the more because the apprehensions of mothers, wives, and of 
those who felt an equally tender interest in the mariners, though 
less inclined to avow it openly, were thrown into the scale by 
the side of their own distrust. Gold, unquestionably, was the 
great aim of their wishes, and there were moments when visions 
of inexhaustible mines and of oriental treasures floated before 
their imaginations ; at which times none could be more eager 
to engage in the mysterious undertaking, or more ready to risk 
their lives and hopes on its success. But these were fleeting 
impressions, and, as has just been said, despondency was the 
prevalent feeling among those who were about to embark. It 
heightened the devotion of the communicants, and threw a 
gloom over the chastened sobriety of the altar, that weighed 
heavily on the hearts of most assembled there. 

" Our people seem none of the most cheerful, Senor Almi- 
rante," said Luis, as they left the convent-chapel in company ; 
* and, if truth must be spoken, one could wish to set forth on 
an expedition of this magnitude, better sustained by merry 
hearts and smiling countenances." 

"Dost thou imagine, young count, that he hath the firmest 
mind who weareth the most smiling visage, or that the heart 
is weak because the countenance is sobered ? These honest 
mariners bethink them of their sins, and no doubt are desirous 
that so holy an enterprise be not tainted by the corruption of 
their own hearts, but rather purified and rendered fitting, by 
their longings to obey the will of God. I trust, Luis" — inter- 
course had given Columbus a sort of paternal interest in the 



206 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

welfare of tlie young grandee, that lessened the distance made 
by rank between them — " I trust, Luis, thou art not, altogether, 
without these pious longings in thine own person." 

"By San Pedro, my new patron ! Senor Almirante, I think 
more of Mercedes de Valverde, than of aught else, in this great 
affair. She is my polar star, my religion, my Cathay. Go on, 
in Heaven's name, and discover what thou wilt, whether it be 
Cipango or the furthest Indies ; beard the great Khan on his 
throne, and I will follow in thy train, with a poor lance and an 
indifferent sword, swearing that the maid of Castile hath no 
equal, and ransacking the east, merely to prove in the face of 
the universe that she is peerless, let her rivals come from what 
part of the earth they may." 

Although Columbus permitted his grave countenance slightly 
to relax at this rhapsody, he did not the less deem it prudent to 
rebuke the spirit in which it was uttered. 

"I grieve, my young friend," he said, "to find that thou 
hast not the feelings proper for one who is engaged, as it might 
be, in a work of Heaven's own ordering. Canst thou not fore- 
see the long train of mighty and wonderful events that are 
likely to follow from this voyage — the spread of religion, 
through the holy church ; the conquest of distant empires, 
with their submission to the sway of Castile ; the settling of 
disputed points in science and philosophy, and the attainment 
of inexhaustible wealth ; with the last and most honorable con- 
sequence of all, the recovery of the sepulchre of the Son of 
God, from the hands of the Infidels !" 

" No doubt, Senor Colon — no doubt, I see them all, but I 
see the Dona Mercedes at their end. What care I for gold, 
who already possess — or shall so soon possess — more than I 
need ? what is the extension of the sway of Castile to me, 
who can never be its king ? and as for the Holy Sepulchre, 
give me but Mercedes, and, like my ancestors that are gone, I 
am ready to break a lance with the stoutest Infidel who ever 
wore a turban, be it in that, or in any other quarrel. In short, 
Senor Almirante, lead on ; and though we go forth with differ- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 207 

cnt objects and different hopes, doubt not that they will lead us 
to the same goal. I feel that you ought to be supported in this 
great and noble design, and it matters not what may bring me 
in your train." 

" Thou art a mad-brained youth, Luis, and must be humored, 
if it were only for the sake of the sweet and pious young 
maiden who seemeth to engross all thy thoughts." 

" You have seen her, Senor, and can say whether she be not 
worthy to occupy the minds of all the youth of Spain ?" 

" She is fair, and virtuous, and noble, and a zealous friend 
of the voyage. These are all rare merits, and thou may'st be 
pardoned for thy enthusiasm in her behalf. But forget not, 
that, to win her, thou must first win a sight of Cathay.' ' 

"In the reality, you must mean, Senor Almirante ; for, with 
the mind's eye, I see it keenly, constantly, and see little else, 
with Mercedes standing on its shores, smiling a welcome, 
and, by St. Paul ! sometimes beckoning me on, with that smile 
that fires the soul with its witchery, even while it subdues 
the temper with its modesty. The blessed Maria send us a 
wind, right speedily, that we may quit this irksome river and 
w r earying convent !" 

Columbus made no answer ; for, while he had all considera- 
tion for a lover's impatience, his thoughts turned to subjects too 
grave, to be long amused even by a lover's follies. 



208 MERCEDES OF CAST ILK. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

44 ^Nor Zayda weeps him only, 
But all that dwell between 
The great Alhambra's palace walls 
And springs of Albaiein." 

Bryant's Translations 

The instant of departure at length arrived. The moment 
so long desired by the Genoese was at hand, and years of 
poverty, neglect, and of procrastination, were all forgotten at 
that blessed hour ; or, if they returned in any manner to the 
constant memory, it was no longer with the bitterness of hope 
deferred. The navigator, at last, saw himself in the possession 
of the means of achieving the first great object for which he 
had lived the last fifteen years, with the hope, in perspective, 
of making the success of his present adventure the stepping- 
stone toward effecting the conquest of the Holy Sepulchre. 
"While those around him were looking with astonishment at the 
limited means with which ends so great were to be attained, 
or were struck aghast at the apparent temerity of an undertak- 
ing that seemed to defy the laws of nature, and to set at naught 
the rules of Providence, he had grown more tranquil as the 
time for sailing drew nearer, and his mind was oppressed mere- 
ly by a feeling of intense, but of sobered, delight. Fray Juan 
Perez whispered to Luis, that he could best liken the joy of 
the admiral to the chastened rapture of a Christian who was 
about to quit a world of woe, to enter on the untasted, but cer- 
tain, fruition of blessed immortality. 

This, however, was far from being the state of mind of all in 
Palos. The embarkation took place in the course of the after- 
noon of the 2d of August, it being the intention of the pilots to 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 209 

carry the vessels that day to a point off the town of Huelvas, 
where the position was more favorable to making sail than 
when anchored in front of Palos. The distance was trifling, 
but it was the commencement of the voyage, and, to many, it 
was like snapping the cords of life, to make even this brief 
movement. Columbus, himself, was one of the last to embark, 
having a letter to send to the court, and other important duties 
to discharge. At length he quitted the convent, and, accom- 
panied by Luis and the prior, he, too, took his way to the 
beach. The short journey was silent, for each of the party was 
deeply plunged in meditation. Never before this hour, did the 
enterprise seem so perilous and uncertain to the excellent 
Franciscan. Columbus was carefully recalling the details of his 
preparations, while Luis was thinking of the maid of Castile, as 
he was wont to term Mercedes, and of the many weary days 
that must elapse before he could hope to see her again. 

The party stopped on the shore, in waiting for a boat to ar- 
rive, at a place where they were removed from any houses. 
There Fray Juan Perez took his leave of the two adventurers. 
The long silence that all three had maintained, was more im- 
pressive than any ordinary discourse could have been ; but it 
was now necessary to break it. The prior was deeply affected, 
and it was some little time before he could even trust his voice 
to speak. 

" Senor Christoval," he at length commenced, "it is now 
many years since thou first appeared at the gate of Santa Maria 
de Rabida — years of friendship and pleasure have they proved 
to me." 

"It is full seven, Fray Juan Perez," returned Columbus — 
" seven weary years have they proved to me, as a solicitor for 
employment — years of satisfaction, father, in all that concern- 
eth thee. Think not that I can ever forget the hour, when, 
leading Diego, houseless, impoverished, wanderers, journeying 
on foot, I stopped to tax the convent's charity for refreshment ! 
The future is in the hands of God, but the past is imprinted 
here" — laying his hand on his heart — " and can never be for- 



210 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

gotten. Thou hast been my constant friend, holy prior, and 
that, too, when it was no credit to favor the nameless Genoese. 
Should my estimation ever change in men's opinions" — 

" Nay, Senor Almirante, it hath changed already," eagerly 
interrupted the prior. " Hast thou not the commission of the 
queen — the support of Don Fernando — the presence of this 
young noble, though still as an incognito — the wishes of all the 
learned ? Dost thou not go forth, on this great voyage, carry- 
ing with thee more of our hopes than of our fears f ' 

" So far as thou art concerned, dear Juan Perez, this may 
be so. I feel that I have all thy best wishes for success ; I 
know that I shall have thy prayers. Few in Spain, notwith- 
standing, will think of Colon with respect, or hope, while we 
are wandering on the great desert of the ocean, beyond a very 
narrow circle. I fear me, that, even at this moment, when the 
means of learning the truth of our theories is in actual posses- 
sion — when we stand, as it might be, on the very threshold of 
the great portal which opens upon the Indies — that few believe 
in our chances of success." 

" Thou hast Dona Isabella of thy side, Senor !" 

" And Dona Mercedes !" put in Luis ; " not to speak of my 
decided and true-hearted aunt 1" 

"I ask but a few brief months, Seiiores," returned Columbus, 
his face turned to heaven with uncovered head, his gray hair 
floating in the wind, and his eye kindling with the light of 
enthusiasm — "a few short months, that will pass away untold 
with the happy — that even the miserable may find supportable, 
but which to us will seem ages, must now dispose of this ques- 
tion. Prior, I have often quitted the shore feeling that I car- 
ried my life in my hand, conscious of all the dangers of the 
ocean, and as much expecting death as a happy return ; but 
at this glorious moment no doubts beset me ; as for life, I know 
it is in the keeping of God's care ; as for success, I feel it is in 
God's wisdom !" 

" These are comfortable sentiments, at so serious a moment, 
Sciior, and I devoutly hope the end will justify them. But 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 2 i 1 

yonder is thy boat, and we must now part. Senor, my son, 
thou knowest that my spirit will bo with thee in this mighty 
undertaking." 

"Holy prior, remember me in thy prayers. I am weak, and 
have need of this support. I trust much to the efficacy of thy 
intercessions, aided by those of thy pious brotherhood. Thou 
wilt bestow on us a few masses ?" 

" Doubt us not, my friend ; all that la Rabida can do with 
the blessed Virgin, or the saints, shall be exercised, without 
ceasing, in thy behalf. It is not given to man to foresee the 
events that are controlled by Providence ; and, though we 
deem this enterprise of thine so certain, and so reasonable, it 
may nevertheless fail." 

"It may not fail, father; God hath thus far directed it, and 
he will not permit it to fail." 

" We know not, Senor Colon ; our wisdom is but as a grain 
of mustard seed among the sands of this shore, as compared 
with his inscrutable designs. I was about to say, as it is possi- 
ble thou may'st return a disappointed, a defeated man, that 
thou wilt still find the gate of Santa Maria open to thee ; since, 
in our eyes, it is as meritorious to attempt nobly, as it is often, 
in the eyes of others, to achieve successfully." 

" I understand thee, holy prior ; and the cup and the 
morsel bestowed on the young Diego, were not more grateful 
than this proof of thy friendship ! I would not depart without 
thy blessing." 

"Kneel, then, Senor ; for, in this act it will not be Juan Perez 
de Marchena that will speak, and pronounce, but the minister 
of God and the church. Even these sands will be no unworthy 
spot to receive such an advantage." 

The eyes of both Columbus and the prior were suffused with 
tears, for at that moment the heart of each was touched with 
the emotions natural to a moment so solemn. The first loved 
the last, because he had proved himself a friend when friends 
were few and timid ; and the worthy monk had some such 
attachment for the great navigator as men are apt to feel for 



212 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

those they have cherished. Each, also, respected and appre- 
ciated the other's motives, and there was a bond of union in 
their common reverence for the Christian religion. Columbus 
kneeled on the sands, and received the benediction of his 
friend, with the meek submission of faith, and with some such 
feelings of reverence as those with which a pious son would 
have listened to a blessing pronounced by a natural father. 

" And thou, young lord," resumed Fray Juan Perez, with a 
husky voice — " thou, too, wilt be none the worse for the prayers 
of an aged churchman." 

Like most of that age, Luis, in the midst of his impetuous 
feelings, and youthful propensities, had enshrined in his heart 
an image of the Son of God, and entertained an habitual re- 
spect for holy things. He knelt without hesitation, and listen- 
ed to the trembling words of the priest with thankfulness and 
respect. 

" Adieu, holy prior," said Columbus, squeezing his friend's 
hand. " Thou hast befriended me when others held aloof ; 
but I trust in God that the day is not now distant, when those 
who have ever shown confidence in my predictions will cease 
to feel uneasiness at the mention of my name. Forget us in 
all things but thy prayers, for a few short months, and then 
expect tidings that, of a verity, shall exalt Castile to a point of 
renown which will render this Conquest of Granada but an in- 
cident of passing interest amid the glory of the reign of Ferdi- 
nand and Isabella !" 

This was not said boastfully, but with the quiet earnestness 
of one who saw a truth that was concealed from most eyes, 
and this with an intensity so great, that the effect on his moral 
vision produced a confidence equalling that which is the fruit 
of the evidence of the senses in ordinary men. The prior un- 
derstood him, and the assurance thus given cheered the mind 
of the worthy Franciscan long after the departure of his friend. 
They embraced and separated. 

By this time the boat of Columbus had reached the shore. 
As the navigator moved slowly toward it, a youthful female 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 213 

rushed wildly past him and Luis, and, regardless of their pres- 
ence, she threw her arms around a young mariner who had 
quitted the boat to meet her, and sobbed for a minute on his 
bosom, in uncontrollable agony, or as women weep in the first 
outbreak of their emotions. 

" Come, then, Pepe," the young wife at length said, hurried- 
ly, and with low earnestness, as one speaks who would fain per- 
suade herself that denial was impossible — " come, Pepe ; thy 
boy hath wept for thee, and thou hast pushed this matter, 
already, much too far." 

" Nay, Monica," returned the husband, glancing his eye at 
Columbus, who was already near enough to hear his words — 
"thou knowest it is by no wish of mine that I am to sail on 
this unknown voyage. Gladly would I abandon it, but the or- 
ders of the queen are too strong for a poor mariner like me, 
and they must be obeyed." 

"This is foolish, Pepe," returned the woman, pulling at her 
husband's doublet to drag him from the water-side — " I have 
had enough of this ; sufficient to break my heart. Come, then, 
and look again upon thy boy." 

"Thou dost not see that the admiral is near, Monica, and we 
are showing him disrespect." 

The habitual deference that was paid by the low to the high, 
induced the woman, for a moment, to pause. She looked im- 
ploringly at Columbus, her fine dark eyes became eloquent with 
the feelings of a wife and mother, and then she addressed the 
great navigator, himself. 

"Seiior," she said, eagerly, "you can have no further need 
of Pepe. He hath helped to carry your vessels to Huelva, and 
now his wife and boy call for him at home." 

Columbus was touched with the manner of the woman, 
which was not entirely without a show of that wavering of rea- 
son which is apt to accompany excessive grief, and he answered 
her less strongly than, at a moment so critical, he might other- 
wise have been disposed to do to one who was inciting to diso- 
bedience. 



214 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Thy husband is honored in being chosen to be rny compan- 
ion in the great voyage," he said. " Instead of bewailing his 
fate, thou wouldst act more like a brave mariner's wife, in ex- 
ulting in his good fortune." 

" Believe him not, Pepe. He speaketh under the Evil One's 
advice to tempt thee to destruction. He hath talked blasphe- 
my, and belied the word of God, by saying that the world is 
round, and that one may sail east by steering west, that he might 
ruin thee and others, by tempting ye all to follow him !" 

" And why should I do this, good woman?" demanded the 
admiral. " What have I to gain by the destruction of thy hus- 
band, or by the destruction of any of his comrades f'J 

"I know not — I care not — Pepe is all to me, and he shall not 
go with you on this mad and wicked voyage. No good can come 
of a journey that is begun by belying the truths of God ! 1J 

"And what particular evil dost thou dread, in this, more 
than in another voyage, that thou thus hang'st upon thy hus- 
band, and usest such discourse to one who beareth their High- 
nesses' authority for that he doeth ? Thou knewest he was a 
mariner when thou wert wedded, and yet thou wouldst fain pre- 
vent him from serving the queen, as becometh his station and 
duty." 

"He may go against the Moor, or the Portuguese, or the 
people of Inghleterra, but I would not that he voyage in the 
service of the Prince of Darkness. Why tell us that the earth 
is round, Senor, when our eyes show that it is flat ? And if 
round, how can a vessel that hath descended the side of the 
earth for days, ever return ? The sea doth not flow upward, 
neither can a caravel mount the waterfall. And when thou 
hast wandered about for months in the vacant ocean, in what 
manner wilt thou, and those with thee, ever discover the direc- 
tion that must be taken to return whence ye all sailed ? Oh ! 
Senor, Palos is but a little town, and once lost sight of in such 
a confusion of ideas, it will never be regained." 

" Idle and childish as this may seem," observed Columbus, 
turning quietly to Luis, " it is as reasonable as much that I have 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 215 

been doomed to hear from the learned, during the last sixteen 
years. When the night of ignorance obscures the mind, the 
thoughts conjure arguments a thousand times more vain and 
frivolous than the phenomena of nature that it fancies so unrea- 
sonable. I will try the effect of religion on this woman, con- 
's erting her present feelings on that head, from an enemy into 
an ally. Monica," calling her kindly and familiarly by name, 
" art thou a Christian ?" 

" Blessed Maria ! Seiior Almirante, what else should I be? 
Dost think Pepe would have married a Moorish girl ?" 

M Listen, then, to me, and learn how unlike a believer thou 
conductest. The Moor is not the only infidel, but this earth 
groaneth with the burden of their numbers, and of their sins. 
The sands on this shore are not as numerous as the unbelievers 
in the single kingdom of Cathay ; for, as yet, God hath allotted 
but a small portion of the earth to those who have faith in the 
mediation of his Son. Even the sepulchre of Christ is yet re- 
tained by infidel hands." 

"This have I heard, Seiior; and 'tis a thousand pities the 
faith is so weak in those who have vowed to obey the law, that 
so crying an evil hath never been cured !" 

" Hast thou not been told that such is to be the fate of the 
world, for a time, but that light will dawn when the word shall 
pass, like the sound of trumpets, into the ears of infidels, and 
when the earth, itself, shall be but one vast temple, filled with 
the praises of God, the love of his name, and obedience to hi3 
will?" 

" Senor, the good fathers of la Eabida, and our own parish 
priests, often comfort us with these hopes." 

" And hast thou seen naught of late to encourage that hope 
— to cause thee to think that God is mindful of his people, and 
that new light is beginning to burst on the darkness of Spain ?" 

"Pepe, his excellency must mean the late miracle at the 
convent, where they say that real tears were seen to fall from 
the eyes of the image of the holy Maria, as she gazed at the 
child that lay on her bosom." 



216 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

"I mean not that," interrupted Columbus, a little sternly, 
though he crossed himself, even while he betrayed dissatisfac- 
tion at the allusion to a miracle that was much too vulgar for 
his manly understanding — " I mean no such questionable won- 
der, which it is permitted us to believe, or not, as it may be 
supported by the church's authority. Can thy faith and zeal 
point to no success of the two sovereigns, in which the power 
of God, as exercised to the advancement of the faith, hath been 
made signally apparent to believers ?" 

"He meaneth the expulsion of the Moor, Pepe !" the woman 
exclaimed, glancing quickly toward her husband, with a look 
of pleasure, "that hath happened of late, they say, by conquer- 
ing the city of Granada ; into which place, they tell me, Dona 
Isabella hath marched in triumph." 

" In that conquest, thou seest the commencement of the 
great acts of our time. Granada hath now its churches ; and 
the distant land of Cathay will shortly follow her example. 
These are the doings of the Lord, foolish woman ; and in hold- 
ing back thy husband from this great undertaking, thou hin- 
derest him from purchasing a signal reward in heaven, and may 
unwittingly be the instrument of casting a curse, instead of a 
blessing, on that very boy, whose image now filleth thy thoughts 
more than that of his Maker and Redeemer." 

The woman appeared bewildered, first looking at the admiral, 
and then at her husband, after which she bowed her head low, 
and devoutly crossed herself. Recovering from this self-abase- 
ment, she again turned toward Columbus, demanding earnestly — 

" And you, Sefior — do you sail with the wish and hope of 
serving God ?" 

" Such is my principal aim, good woman. I call on Heaven 
itself, to witness the truth of what I say. May my voyage 
prosper, only, as I tell thee naught but truth !" 

"And you, too, Seiior?" turning quickly to Luis de Bobadilla; 
" is it to serve God that you also go on this unusual voyage ?" 

" If not at the orders of God, himself, my good woman, it is, 
at least, at the bidding of an angel !" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 2l7 

" Dost tliou think it is so, Pepe ? Have we been thus de- 
,. ceived, and has so much evil been said of the admiral and his 
motives, wrongfully J" 

" What hath been said ?" quietly demanded Columbup 
" Speak freely ; thou hast naught to dread from my displea- 
sure." 

"Senor, you have your enemies, as well as another, and 
the wives, and mothers, and the betrothed of Palos, have not 
been slow to give vent to their feelings. In the first place, they 
say that you are poor." 

" That is so true and manifest, good woman, it would be idle 
to deny it. Is poverty a crime at Palos ?" 

"The poor are little respected, Senor, in all this region. I 
know not why, for to me we seem to be as the rest, but few re- 
spect us. Then they say, Senor, that you are not a Castilian, 
but a Genoese.** 

* ' This is also true ; is that, too, a crime among the mariners 
of Moguer, who ought to prize a people as much renowned for 
their deeds on the sea, as those of the superb republic ?" 

" I know not, Senor ; but many hold it to be a disadvantage 
not to belong to Spain, and particularly to Castile, which is the 
country of Dona Isabella, herself ; and how can it be as honor- 
able to be a Genoese as to be a Spaniard ? I should like it 
better were Pepe to sail with one who is a Spaniard, and that, 
too, of Palos or Moguer." 

" Thy argument is ingenious, if not conclusive," returned 
Columbus, smiling, the only outward exhibition of feeling he 
betrayed — "but cannot one who is both poor and a Genoese 
serve God V 

" No doubt, Senor ; and I think better of this voyage since 
I know your motive, and since I have seen you and spoken 
with you. Still, it is a great sacrifice for a young wife to let 
her husband sail on an expedition so distrusted, and he the 
father of her only boy !" 

" Here is a young noble, an only son, a lover, and that, too, 
of impetuous feelings, an only child withal, rich, honored, and 



2 IS MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

able to go whither he will, w T ho not only embarketh with me, 
but embarketh by the consent — nay, I had better say, by the 
orders of his mistress!" 

" Is this so, Senor?" the wife asked, eagerly. 

" So true, my good woman, that my greatest hopes depend 
on this voyage. Did I not tell thee that I went at the bidding 
of an angel V ' 

" Ah ! these young lords have seductive tongues ! But, 
Senor Almirante, since such is your quality, they say, more- 
over, that to you this voyage can only bring honors and good, 
while it may bring misery and death on your followers. Poor 
and unknown, it maketh you a high officer of the queen ; and 
some think that the Venetian galleys will be none the more 
heavily freighted, should you need them on the high seas." 

" And in what can all this harm thy husband ? I go whitherso- 
ever he goeth, share his dangers, and expose life for life with him. 
If there is gold gained by the adventure, he will not be forgotten ; 
and if heaven is made any nearer to us, by our dangers and hard- 
ships, Pepe will not be a loser. At the last great reckoning, wo- 
man, we shall not be asked who is poor, or who is a Genoese. " 

" This is true, Senor; and yet it is hard for a young wife to 
part from her husband. Dost thou wish, in truth, to sail with 
the admiral, Pepe ?" 

" It matters little with me, Monica ; I am commanded to 
serve the queen, and we mariners have no right to question her 
authority. Now I have heard his excellency's discourse, I think 
less of the affair than before.' ' 

"If God is really to be served in this voiage," continued the 
woman, with dignity, "thou shouldst not be backward, more 
than another, my husband. Senor, will you suffer Pepe to pass 
the night with his family, on condition that he goeth on board 
the Santa Maria in the morning?'' 

" What certainty have I that this condition will be re- 
spected »" 

" Senor, we are both Christians, and serve the same God — 
have been redeemed bv the same Saviour." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 219 

" This is true, and I will confide in it, Pepe, thou canst re- 
main until the morning, when I shall expect thee at thy station. 
There will be oarsmen enough, without thee." 

The woman looked her thanks, and Columbus thought he 
read an assurance of good faith in her noble Spanish manner, 
and lofty look. As some trifling preparations were to be made 
before the boat could quit the shore, the admiral and Luis paced 
the sands the while, engaged in deep discourse. 

" This hath been a specimen of what I have had to over- 
come and endure, in order to obtain even yonder humble 
means for effecting the good designs of Providence," observed 
Columbus, mournfully, though he spoke without acrimony. 
"It is a crime to be poor — to be a Genoese — to be aught else 
than the very thing that one's judges and masters fancy them- 
selves to be ! The day will come, Conde de Llera, when Genoa 
shall think herself in no manner disgraced, in having given 
birth to Christofero Colombo, and when your proud Castile 
will be willing to share with her in the dishonor ! Thou little 
know'st, young lord, how far thou art on the road to renown, 
and toward high deeds, in having been born noble, and the 
master of large possessions. Thou seest me, here, a man al- 
ready stricken in years, with a head whitened by time and suffer- 
ings, and yet am I only on the threshold of the undertaking that 
is to give my name a place among those of the men who have 
served God, and advanced the welfare of their fellow-creatures." 

" Is not this the course of things, Senor, throughout the 
earth ? Do not those who find themselves placed beneath the 
level of their merits, struggle to rise to the condition to w r hich 
nature intended them to belong, while those whom fortune hath 
favored through their ancestors, are too often content to live on 
honors that they have not themselves won ? I see naught in 
this but the nature of man, and the course of the world." 

" Thou art right, Luis, but philosophy and fact are different 
matters. "We may reason calmly on principles, when their ap- 
plication in practice causeth much pain. Thou hast a frank 
and manly nature, young man ; one that dreadeth neither the 



220 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

gibe of the Christian, nor the lance of the Moor, and wilt an- 
swer to any, in fearlessness and truth. A Castilian thyself, dost 
thou, too, really think one of thy kingdom better than one of 
Genoa ?" 

"Not when he of Genoa is Christoval Colon, Senor, and he 
of Castile is only Luis de Bobadilla," answered the young man, 
laughing. 

"Nay, I will not be denied — hast thou any such notion as 
this, which the wife of Pepe hath so plainly avowed 3" 

"What will you, Senor Christoval? Man is the same in 
Spain, that he is among the Italians, or the English. Is it not 
his besetting sin to think good of himself, and evil of his 
neighbor V 

" A plain question that is loyally put, may not be answered 
with a truism, Luis." 

" Nor a civil, honest reply confounded with one that is eva- 
sive. We of Castile are humble and most devout Christians, 
by the same reason that we think ourselves faultless, and the 
rest of mankind notable sinners. By San Iago, of blessed faith 
and holy memory ! it is enough to make a people vain, to have 
produced such a queen as Dona Isabella, and such a maiden as 
Mercedes de Valverde !" 

" This is double loyalty, for it is being true to the queen and 
to thy mistress. With this must I satisfy myself, even though 
it be no answer. But, Castilian though I am not, even the 
Guzmans have not ventured on the voyage to Cathay, and the 
House of Trastamara may yet be glad to acknowledge its in- 
debtedness to a Genoese. God hath no respect to worldly con- 
dition, or worldly boundaries, in choosing his agents, for most 
of the saints were despised Hebrews, while Jesus, himself, came 
of Nazareth. We shall see, we shall see, young lord, what 
three months will reveal to the admiration of mankind.' ' 

" Senor Almirante, I hope and pray it may be the island of 
Cipango and the realms of the great Khan ; should it not be so, 
we are men who can not only bear our toils, but who can bear 
our disappointments." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 221 

"Of disappointments in this matter, Don Luis, I look for 
none — n ow that I have the royal faith of Isabella, and these 
good caravels to back me ; ~the drudge who saileth from Ma- 
deira to Lisbon, is not more certain of gaining his port than I 
am certain of gaining Cathay.' ' 

" No doubt, Seiior Colon, that what any navigator can do, 
you can do and will perform; nevertheless, disappointment 
would seem to be the lot of man, and it might be well for all 
of us to be prepared to meet it." 

u The sun that is just sinking beyond yon hill, Luis, is not 
plainer before my eyes than this route to the Indies. I have 
seen it, these seventeen years, distinct as the vessels in the river, 
bright as the polar star, and, I make little doubt, as faithfully. 
It is well to talk of disappointments, since they are the lot of 
man ; and who can know this better than one that hath been 
led on by false hopes during all the better years of his life ; 
now encouraged by princes, statesmen, and churchmen ; and 
now derided and scoffed at as a vain projector, that hath neither 
reason nor fact to sustain him !" 

" By my new patron, San Pedro ! Seiior Almirante, but you 
have led a most grievous life, for this last age, or so. The next 
three months will, indeed, be months of moment to you." 

" Thou little know'st the calmness of conviction and confi- 
dence, Luis," returned Columbus, " if thou fanciest any doubts 
beset me as the hour of trial approacheth. This day is the 
happiest I have known, for many a weary year; for, though 
the preparations are not great, and our barks are but slight and 
of trifling bulk, yonder lie the means through which a light, 
that hath long been hid, is about to break upon the world, and 
to raise Castile to an elevation surpassing that of any other 
Christian nation." 

"Thou must regret, Seiior Colon, that it hath not been 
Genoa, thy native land, that is now about to receive this great 
boon, after having merited it by generous and free gifts, in 
behalf of this great voyage." 

" This hath not b>een the least of my sorrows, Luis, It is 
10 



222 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

hard to desert one's own country, and to seek new connections, 
as life draweth to a close, though, we mariners, perhaps, feel 
the tie less than those who never quit the land. But Genoa 
would have none of me ; and if the child is bound to love and 
honor the parent, so is the parent equally bound to protect and 
foster the child. When the last forgets its duty, the first is 
not to be blamed if it seek support wherever it may be found. 
There are limits to every human duty ; those we owe to God 
alone, never ceasing to require their fulfilment, and our unceas- 
ing attention. Genoa hath proved but a stern mother to me ; 
and though naught could induce me to raise a hand against her, 
she hath no longer any claims on my service. Besides, when 
the object in view is the service of God, it mattereth little with 
which of his creatures we league as instruments. One cannot 
easily hate the land of his birth, but injustice may lead him to 
cease to love it. The tie is mutual, and when the country 
ceaseth to protect person, character, property, or rights, the 
subject is liberated from all his duties. If allegiance goeth 
with protection, so should protection go with allegiance. Dona 
Isabella is now my mistress, and, next to God, her will I serve, 
and serve only. Castile is henceforth my country." 

At this moment it was announced that the pinnace waited, 
and the two adventurers immediately embarked. 

It must have required all the deep and fixed convictions of an 
ardent temperament, to induce Columbus to rejoice that he 
had, at length, obtained the means of satisfying his longings 
for discovery, when he came coolly to consider what those 
means were. The names of his vessels, the Santa Maria, the 
Pinta, and the Miia, have already been mentioned, and some 
allusions have been made to their size and construction. Still, 
it may aid the reader in forming his opinions of the character 
of this great enterprise, if we give a short sketch of the vessels, 
more especially that in which Columbus and Luis de Bobadilla 
were now received. She was, of course, the Santa Maria, a ship 
of nearly twice the burden 'of the craft next her in size. This 
vessel had been prepared with more care than the others, and 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 223 

some attention had been paid to the dignity and comfort of the 
Admiral she was destined to cany. Not only was she decked 
in, but a poop, or round-house, was constructed on her quarter- 
deck, in which he had his berth. No proper notion can be 
obtained of the appearance of the Santa Maria, from the taunt- 
rigged, symmetrical, and low-sterned ships of the present time ; 
for, though the Santa Maria had both a poop and top-gallant- 
forecastle, as they would be termed to-day, neither was con- 
structed in the snug and unobtrusive manner that is now used. 
The poop, or round-house, was called a castle, to which it had 
some fancied resemblance, while the top-gallant-forecastle, in 
which most of the people lived, was out of proportion large, 
rose like a separate structure on the bows of the vessel, and 
occupied about a third of the deck, from forward aft. To those 
who never saw the shipping that was used throughout Europe, 
a century since, it will not be very obvious how vessels so small 
could rise so far above the water, in safety ; but this difficulty 
may be explained ; many very old ships, that had some of the 
peculiarities of this construction, existing within the memory of 
man, and a few having fallen under our own immediate inspec- 
tion. The bearings of these vessels were at the loaded water- 
lines, or very little above them, and they tumbled home, in a 
w r ay to reduce their beams on their poop decks nearly, if not 
quite, a fourth. By these precautions, their great height out of 
the water was less dangerous than might otherwise have been 
the case ; and as they were uniformly short ships, possessing 
the advantages of lifting easily forward, and were, moreover, 
low-waisted, they might be considered safe in a sea, rather than 
the reverse. Being so short, too, they had great beam for their 
tonnage, which, if not an element of speed, was at least one of 
• security. Although termed ships, these vessels were not rig- 
ged in the manner of the ships of the present clay, their 
standing spars being relatively longer than those now in use, 
while their upper, or shifting spars, were much less numerous, 
and much less important than those which now point upward, 
like needles, toward the clouds. Neither had a ship necessarily 



224 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

the same number of spars, in the fifteenth century, as belong to 
a ship in the nineteenth. The term itself, as it was used in all 
the southern countries of Europe, being directly derived from 
the Latin word navis, was applied rather as a generic than as a 
distinctive term, and by no means inferred any particular con- 
struction, or particular rig. The caravel was a ship, in this 
sense, though not strictly so, perhaps, when we descend to the 
more minute classification of seamen. 

Much stress has been justly laid on the fact, that two of the 
vessels in this extraordinary enterprise were undecked. In that 
day, when most sea voyages were made in a direction parallel 
to the main coasts, and when even those that extended to the 
islands occupied but a very few days, vessels were seldom far from 
the land ; and it was the custom of the mariners, a practice 
that has extended to our own times, in the southern seas of 
Europe, to seek a port at the approach of bad weather. Un- 
der such circumstances, decks were by no means as essential, 
either for the security of the craft, the protection of the cargo, 
or the comfort of the people, as in those cases in which the full 
fury of the elements must be encountered. Nevertheless, the 
reader is not to suppose a vessel entirely without any upper 
covering, because she was not classed among those that were 
decked ; even such caravels, when used on the high seas, usually 
possessing quarter-decks and forecastles, with connecting gang- 
ways ; depending on tarpaulings, and other similar preventives, 
to exclude the wash of the sea from injuring their cargoes. 

After all these explanations, however, it must be conceded, 
that the preparations for the great undertaking of Columbus, 
while the imaginations of landsmen probably aggravate their 
incompleteness, strike the experienced seaman as altogether 
inadequate to its magnitude and risks. That the mariners 
of the day deemed them positively insufficient is improbable, 
for men as accustomed to the ocean as the Pinzons, would not 
have volunteered to risk their vessel, their money, and their 
persons, in an expedition that did not possess the ordinary 
means of security. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 225 



CHAPTER XIV. 

" O'er the glad waters of the dark blue sea, 
Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free, 
Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam, 
Survey our empire, and behold our home. 11 

Byron. 

As Columbus sought his apartment, soon after he reached 
the deck of the Holy Maria, Luis had no farther opportunity 
to converse with him that night. He occupied a part of the 
same room, it is true, under the assumed appellation of the 
admiral's secretary ; but the great navigator was so much 
engaged with duties necessary to be discharged previously to 
sailing, that he could not be interrupted, and the young man 
paced the narrow limits of the deck until near midnight, think- 
ing, as usual, of Mercedes, and of his return, when, seeking his 
mattress, he found Columbus already buried in a deep sleep. 

The following day was Friday ; and it is worthy of remark, 
that the greatest and most successful voyage that has ever 
occurred on this globe, was commenced on a day of the week 
that seamen have long deemed to be so inauspicious to nautical 
enterprises, that they have often deferred sailing, in order to 
avoid the unknown, but dreaded consequences. Luis was 
among the first who appeared again on deck, and casting his 
eyes upward, he perceived that the admiral was already afoot, 
and in possession of the summit of the high poop, or castle, 
whose narrow limits, indeed, were deemed sacred to the uses 
of the privileged, answering, in this particular, to the more 
extended promenade of the modern quarter-deck. Here it 
was that he who directed the movements of a squadron, over- 



22G MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

looked its evolutions, threw out his signals, made his astronom- 
ical observations, and sought his recreation in the open air. 
The whole space on board the Santa Maria might have been 
some fifteen feet in one direction, and not quite as much in the 
other, making a convenient look-out, more from its exclusion 
and retirement, than from its dimensions. 

As soon as the admiral — or Don Christoval, as he was now 
termed by the Spaniards, since his appointment to his present 
high rank, which gave him the rights and condition of a noble 
— as soon as Don Christoval caught a glance of Luis' eye, he 
made a sign for the young man to ascend and take a position at 
his side. Although the expedition was so insignificant in num- 
bers and force, not equalling, in the latter particular, the power 
of a single modern sloop of war, the authority of the queen, 
the gravity and mien of Columbus himself, and, most of all, 
its own mysterious and unwonted object, had, from the first, 
thrown around it a dignity that was disproportioned to its visi- 
ble means. Accustomed to control the passions of turbulent 
men, and aware of the great importance of impressing his fol- 
lowers with a sense of his high station and influence with the 
court, Columbus had kept much aloof from familiar intercourse 
with his subordinates, acting principally through the Pinzons 
and the other commanders, lest he might lose some portion of 
that respect which he foresaw would be necessary to his objects. 
It needed not his long experience to warn him that men, crowd- 
ed together in so small a space, could only be kept in their so- 
cial and professional stations, by the most rigid observance of 
forms and decorum, and he had observed a due attention to 
these great requisites, in prescribing the manner in which his 
own personal service should be attended to, and his personal 
dignity supported. This is one of the great secrets of the dis- 
cipline of a ship, for they who are incapable of reasoning, can 
be made to feel, and no man is apt to despise him who is well 
entrenched behind the usages of deference and reserve. We 
see, daily, the influence of an appellation, or a commission, 
even the turbulent submitting to its authority, when they might 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 227 

resist the same lawful commands issuing from an apparently less 
elevated source. 

"Thou wilt keep much near my person, Seiior Gutierrez," 
said the admiral, using the feigned name which Luis affected to 
conceal under that of Pedro de Munos, as he knew a ship w r as 
never safe from eaves-droppers, and was willing that the young 
noble should pass as the gentleman of the king's bedchamber ; 
* ' this is our station, and here w T e must remain much of our 
time, until God, in his holy and wise providence, shall have 
♦opened the way for us to Cathay, and brought us near the 
throne of the Great Khan. Here is our course, and along this 
track of pathless ocean it is my intention to steer." 

As Columbus spoke, he pointed to a chart that lay spread be- 
fore him on an arm-chest, passing a ringer calmly along the line 
he intended to pursue. The coast of Europe, in its general 
outlines, was laid down on this chart, with as much accuracy 
as the geographical knowledge of the day would furnish, and a 
range of land extended southward as far as Guinea, all beyond 
which region was terra incognita to the learned world at that 
time. The Canaries and the Azores, which had been discov- 
ered some generations earlier, occupied their proper places, 
while the western side of the Atlantic was bounded by a fan- 
cied delineation of the eastern coast of India, or of Cathay, 
buttressed by the island of Cipango, or Japan, and an Archi- 
pelago, that had been represented principally after the accounts 
of Marco Polo and his relatives. By a fortunate misconception, 
Cipango had been placed in a longitude that corresponded very 
nearly with that of Washington, or some two thousand leagues 
east of the position in which it is actually to be found. This 
error of Columbus, in relation to the extent of the circumfer- 
ence of the globe, in the end, most probably saved his hardy 
enterprise from becoming a failure. 

Luis, for the first time since he had been engaged in the ex- 
pedition, cast his eyes over this chart, with some curiosity, and 
he felt a noble desire to solve the great problem rising within 
him, as he thus saw, at a glance, all the vast results, as well as 



228 MERCEDES OF CASJILE. 

the interesting natural phenomena, that were dependent on the 
issue. 

"By San Gennaro of Napoli!" he exclaimed — The only af- 
fectation the young noble had, was a habit of invoking the 
saints of the different countries he had visited, and of using the 
little oaths and exclamations of distant lands, a summary mode 
of both letting the world know how far he had journeyed, as 
well as a portion of the improvement he had derived from his 
travels — " By San Gennaro, Seiior Don Christoval, but this 
voyage will be one of exceeding merit, if we ever find our way 
across this .great belt of water ; and greater still, should we 
ever manage to return I" 

" The last difficulty is the one, at this moment, uppermost in 
the minds of most in this vessel," answered Columbus. "Dost 
thou not perceive, Don Luis, the grave and dejected counte- 
nances of the mariners, and hearest thou the wailings that are 
rising from the shore ?" 

This remark caused the young man to raise his eyes from 
the chart, and to take a survey of the scene around him. The 
Nina, a light felucca, in fact, was already under way, and brush- 
ing past them under a latine foresail, her sides thronged with 
boats filled with people, no small portion of whom were females 
and children, and most of whom were wringing their hands and 
raising piteous cries of despair. The Pinta was in the act of 
being cast ; and, although the authority of Martin Alonzo 
Pinzon had the effect to render their grief less clamorous, her 
sides were surrounded by a similar crowd, while numberless 
boats plied around the Santa Maria herself ; the authority and 
dignity of the admiral alone keeping them at a distance. It 
was evident that most of those who remained, fancied that they 
now saw their departing relations for the last time, while no 
small portion of those who were on the eve of sailing, believed 
they were on the point of quitting Spain forever. 

"Hast looked for Pepe, this morning, among our people ?" 
demanded Columbus, the incident of the young sailor recurring 
to his thoughts, for the first time that morning; " if he prove 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 229 

false to his word, we may regard it as an evil omen, and have 
an eye on all our followers, while there is a chance of escape." 

" If his absence would be an omen of evil, Senor Almirante, 
his presence ought to be received as an omen of good. The 
noble fellow, is on this yard, above our heads, loosening the 
sail." 

Columbus turned his eyes upward, and there, indeed, was the 
young mariner in question, poised on the extreme and atten- 
uated end of the latine yard, that ships even then carried on 
their after-masts, swinging in the wind while he loosened the 
gasket that kept the canvas in its folds. Occasionally he looked 
beneath him, anxious to discover if his return had been noted ; 
and, once or twice, his hands, usually so nimble, lingered in 
their employment, as he cast glances over the stern of the ves- 
sel, as if one also drew his attention in that quarter. Colum- 
bus made a sign of recognition to the gratified young mariner, 
who instantly permitted the canvas to fall ; and then he walked 
to the taffrail, accompanied by Luis, in order to ascertain if 
any boat was near the ship. There, indeed, close to the vessel, 
lay a skiff, rowed by Monica alone, and which had been per- 
mitted to approach so near on account of the sex of its occupant. 
The moment the wife of Pepe observed the form of the admiral, 
she arose from her seat, and clasped her hands toward him, 
desirous, but afraid, to speak. Perceiving that the woman was 
awed by the bustle, the crowd of persons, and the appearance 
of the ship, which she was almost near enough to touch with 
her hand, Columbus addressed her. He spoke mildly, and his 
looks, usually so grave, and sometimes even stern, were softened 
to an expression of gentleness that Luis had never bef)re 
witnessed. 

" I see that thy husband hath been true to his promise, good 
woman," he said ; " and I doubt not that thou hast told him it 
is wiser and better manfully to serve the queen, than to live 
under the disgrace of a runaway. " 

" Senor, I have. I give Dona Isabella my husband, without 
a murmur, if not cheerfully, now I know that you go forth to 



230 MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 

serve God. I see the wickedness of my repinings, and shall 
pray that he may be foremost, on all occasions, until the ears 
of the Infidel shall be opened to the words of the true faith. " 

" This is said like a Spanish wife, and a Christian woman ! 
Our lives are in the care of Providence, and doubt not of seeing 
Pepe, in health and safety, after he hath visited Cathay, and 
done his share in its discovery." 

"Ah! Senor — when?" exclaimed the wife, unable, in spite 
of her assumed fortitude, and the strong feelings of religious 
duty, to suppress the impulses of a woman. 

" In God's time, my good — how art thou named ?*' 

" Monica, Senor Almirante, and my husband is called Pepe ; 
and the boy, the poor, fatherless child, hath been christened 
Juan. We have no Moorish blood, but are pure Spaniards, 
and I pray your Excellency to remember it, on such occasions 
as may call for more dangerous duty than common." 

" Thou may'st depend on my care of the father of Juan," re- 
turned the admiral, smiling, though a tear glistened in his eye. 
" I, too, leave behind those that are dear to me as my own soul, 
and among others a motherless son. Should aught serious befall 
our vessel, Diego would be an orphan ; whereas thy Juan would 
at least enjoy the care and affection of her who brought him 
into the world." 

" Seiior, a thousand pardons !" said the woman, much 
touched by the feeling that was betrayed by the admiral in 
his voice. " We are selfish, and forget that others have sor- 
rows, when we feel our own too keenly. Go forth, in God's 
name, and do his holy will — take my husband with you : 
I only wish that little Juan was old enough to be his com- 
panion." 

Monica could utter no more, but dashing the tears from her 
eyes, she resumed the oars, and pulled the little skiff slowly, 
as if the inanimate machine felt the reluctance of the hands 
that propelled it, toward the land. The short dialogue just 
related, had been carried on in voices so loud as to be heard 
by all near the speakers ; and when Columbus turned from the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 231 

boat, lie saw that many of his crew had been hanging suspend- 
ed in the rigging, or on the yards, eagerly listening to what 
had been said. At this precise instant the anchor of the Santa 
Maria was raised from the bottom, and the ship's head began to 
incline from the direction of the wind. At the next moment, 
the flap of the large square foresail that crafts of her rig then 
carried, was heard, and in the course of the next five minutes, 
the three vessels were standing slowly but steadily down the 
current of the Odiel, in one of the arms of which river they 
had been anchored, holding their course toward a bar near its 
mouth. The sun had not yet risen, or rather it rose over the 
hills of Spain, a fiery ball, just as the sails were set, gilding 
with a melancholy glory, a coast that not a few in the different 
vessels apprehended they were looking upon for the last time. 
Many of the boats clung to the two smaller craft until they 
reached the bar of Saltes, an hour or two later, and some still 
persevered until they began to toss in the long waves of the 
breathing ocean, when, the wind being fresh at the west, they 
reluctantly cast off, one by one, amid sighs and groans. The 
liberated ships, in the meanwhile, moved steadily into the blue 
waters of the shoreless Atlantic, like human beings silently im- 
pelled by their destinies toward fates that they can neither fore- 
see, control, nor avoid. 

The day was fine, and the wind both brisk and fair. Thus 
far the omens were propitious ; but the unknown future threw 
a cloud over the feelings of a large portion of those who were 
thus quitting, in gloomy uncertainty, all that was most dear to 
them. It was known that the admiral intended making the 
best of his way toward the Canaries, thence to enter on the 
unknown and hitherto untrodden paths of the desert ocean that 
lay beyond. Those who doubted, therefore, fixed upon those 
islands as the points where their real dangers were to com- 
mence, and already looked forward to their appearance in the 
horizon, with feelings akin to those with which the guilty re- 
gard the day of trial, the condemned the morning of execution, 
or the sinner the bed of death. Many, however, were superior 



232 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

to this weakness, having steeled their nerves and prepared their 
minds for any hazards, though the feelings of nearly all fluctu- 
ated ; there being hours when hope, and anticipations of suc- 
cess, seemed to cheer the entire crews ; and then, moments 
would occur, in which the disposition was to common doubts, 
and a despondency that was nearly general. 

A voyage to the Canaries or the Azores, in that age, was 
most probably to be classed among the hardiest exploits of sea- 
men. The distance was not as great, certainly, as many of their 
more ordinary excursions, for vessels frequently went, even in 
the same direction, as far as the Cape de Verdes ; but all the 
other European passages lay along the land, and in the Mediter- 
ranean the seaman felt that he was navigating within known 
limits, and was apt to consider himself as embayed within the 
boundaries of human knowledge. On the contrary, while sail- 
ing on the broad Atlantic, he was, in some respects, placed in a 
situation resembling that of the aeronaut, who, while floating in 
the higher currents of the atmosphere, sees beneath him the 
earth as his only alighting place, the blue void of untravelled 
space stretching in all other directions about him. 

The Canary Isles were known to the ancients. Juba, the 
king of Mauritania, who was a contemporary of Ca3sar, is said 
to have described them with tolerable accuracy, under the gen- 
eral name of the Fortunate Isles. The work itself has been 
lost, but the fact is known through the evidence of other writ- 
ers; and by the same means it is known that they possessed, 
even in that remote age, a population that had made some re- 
spectable advances toward civilization. But in the process of 
time, and during the dark period that succeeded the brightness 
of the Roman sway, even the position of these islands was lost 
to the Europeans ; nor was it again ascertained until the first 
half of the fourteenth centuiy, when they were discovered by 
certain fugitive Spaniards who were hard pressed by the Moors. 
After this, the Portuguese, then the most hardy navigators of 
the known world, got possession of one or two of them, and 
made them the starting points for their voyages of discovery 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 233 

along the coast of Guinea. As the Spaniards reduced the pow 
er of the Mussulmans, and regained their ancient sway in the 
peninsula, they once more turned their attention in this direc- 
tion, conquering the natives of several of the other islands, the 
group belonging equally to those two Christian nations, at the 
time of our narrative. 

Luis de Bobadilla, who had navigated extensively in the more 
northern seas, and w T ho had passed and repassed the Mediter- 
ranean in various directions, knew nothing of these islands ex- 
cept by report; and as they stood on the poop, Columbus 
pointed out to him their position, and explained their different 
characters; relating his intentions in connection with them, 
dwelling on the supplies they afforded, and on their facilities as 
a point of departure. 

" The Portuguese have profited much by their use of these 
islands/' said Columbus, "as a place for victualling, and wood- 
ing, and watering, and I see no reason why Castile may not, 
now, imitate their example, and receive her share of the bene- 
fits. Thou seest how far south our neighbors have penetrated, 
and what a trade and how much riches are flowing into Lisbon 
through these noble enterprises, which, notwithstanding, are but 
as a bucket of water in the ocean, when compared with the 
wealth, of Cathay and all the mighty consequences that are to 
follow from this western voyage of ours." 

" Dost thou expect to reach the territories of the Great Khan, 
Don Christoval," demanded Luis, " within a distance as small 
as that to which the Portuguese hath gone southwardly V y 

The navigator looked warily around, to ascertain who might 
hear his words, and finding that no one was within reach of the 
sound of his voice while he used a proper caution, he lowered 
its tones, and answered in a manner which greatly flattered his 
young companion, as it proved that the admiral was disposed 
to treat him with the frankness and confidence of a friend. 

"Thou know'st, Don Luis," the navigator resumed, "the 
nature of the spirits with whom we have to deal. I shall not 
even be certain of their services, so long; as we continue near 



234 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

the coast of Europe ; for naught is easier than for one of yon- 
der craft to abandon me in the night, and to seek a haven on 
some known coast, seeking his justification in some fancied 
necessity." 

" Martin Alonzo is not a man to do that ignoble and unwor- 
thy act!" interrupted Luis. 

"He is not, my young friend, for a motive as base as fear," 
returned Columbus, with a sort of thoughtful smile, which 
showed how truly and early he had dived into the real charac- 
ters of those with whom he was associated. " Martin Alonzo 
is a bold and intelligent navigator, and we may look for good 
service at his hands, in all that toucheth resolution and perse- 
verance. But the eyes of the Pinzons cannot be always open, 
and the knowledge of all the philosophers of the earth could 
make no resistance against the headlong impetuosity of a crew 
of alarmed mutineers. I do not feel certain of our own people 
while there is a hope of easy return ; much less of men who 
are not directly under my own eye and command. The ques- 
tion thou hast asked, Luis, may not, therefore, be publicly an- 
swered, since the distance we are about to sail over would 
frighten our easily alarmed mariners. Thou art a cavalier ; a 
knight of known courage, and may be depended on ; and I may 
tell thee, without fear of arousing any unworthy feeling, that 
the voyage on which we are now fairly embarked, hath never 
had a precedent on this earth, for its length, or for the loneli- 
ness of its way." 

" And yet, Senor, thou enterest on it with the confidence of 
a man certain* of reaching his haven ?" 

" Luis, thou hast well judged my feelings. As to all those 
common dreads of descents, and ascents, of the difficulties of 
a return, and of reaching the margin of the world, whence we 
may glide oft* into space, neither thou, nor I, shall be much 
subjected.' ' 

"By San Iago ! Senor Don Christoval, I have no very set- 
tled notions about these things. I have never known of any 
one who hath slidden off the earth into the air, it is true, nor 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 235 # 

do I much, think that such a slide is likely to befall us and our 
good ships ; but, on the other hand, we have as yet only 
doctrine to prove that the earth is round, and that it is possible 
to journey east, by sailing west. On these subjects, then, I hold 
myself neuter ; while, at the same time, thou may'st steer direct 
for the moon, and Luis de Bobadilla will be found at thy side.'' 

" Thou makest thyself less expert in science, mad-brained 
young noble, than is either true or necessary ; but we will say 
no more of this, at present. There will be sufficient leisure to 
make thee familiar with all my intricate reasons and familiar 
motives. And is not this, Don Luis, a most heavenly sight ? 
Here am I in the open ocean, honored by the two sovereigns 
with the dignity of their viceroy and admiral ; with a fleet 
that is commissioned by their Highnesses to carry the knowl- 
edge of their power and authority to the uttermost parts of the 
earth ; and, most of all, to raise the cross of our blessed Re- 
deemer before the eyes of Infidels, who have never yet even 
heard his name, or, if they have, reverence it as little as a 
Christian would reverence the idols of the heathens !" 

This was said with the calm but deep enthusiasm that color- 
ed the entire character of the great navigator, rendering him, 
at times, equally the subject of distrust and of profound re- 
sp'ect. On Luis, as, indeed, on most others who lived in suffi- 
cient familiarity with the man to enable them to appreciate his 
motives, and to judge correctly of the uprightness of his views, 
the effect, however, was always favorable, and probably would 
have been so had Mercedes never existed. The young man, 
himself, was not entirely without a tinge of enthusiasm, and, 
as is ever the case with the single-minded and generous, he 
best knew how to regard the impulses of those who were in- 
fluenced by similar qualities. This answer was consequently in 
accordance with the feelings of the admiral, and they remained 
on the poop several hours, discoursing of the future, with the 
ardor of those who hoped for every thing, but in a manner too 
discursive and general to render a record of the dialogue easy 
or necessary. 



*236 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

It was eight o'clock in the morning when the vessels passed 
the bar of Saltes, and the clay had far advanced before the 
navigators had lost sight of the familiar eminences that lay 
around Palos, and the other well-known land-marks of the 
coast. The course was due south, and, as the vessels of that 
day were lightly sparred, and spread comparatively very little 
canvas, when considered in connection with the more dashing 
navigation of our own times, the rate of sailing was slow, and 
far from promising a speedy termination to a voyage that all 
knew must be long without a precedent, and which so many 
feared could never have an end. Two marine leagues, of three 
English miles, an hour, was good progress for a vessel at that 
day, even with a fresh and favorable wind ; though there are a 
few memorable clays' works set clown by Columbus himself, 
which approach to a hundred and sixty miles in the twenty- 
four hours, and which are evidently noted as a speed of which 
a mariner might well be proud. In these days of locomotion 
and travelling, it is scarcely necessary to tell the intelligent 
reader this is but a little more than half the distance that is 
sailed over by a fast ship, under similar circumstances, and in 
our own time. 

Thus the sun set upon the adventurers, in this celebrated 
voyage, when they had sailed with a strong breeze, to use the 
words of Columbus' own record, some eleven hours, after quit- 
ting the bar. By this time, they had made good less than fifty 
miles, in a due south course from the place of their departure. 
The land in the neighborhood of Palos had entirely sunk behind 
the watery margin of the ocean, in that direction, and the coast 
trending eastward, it was only here and there that the misty 
summits of a few of the mountains of Seville could just be dis- 
covered by the experienced eyes of the older mariners, as the 
glowing ball of the sun sunk into the watery bed of the western 
horizon, and disappeared from view. At this precise moment, 
Columbus and Luis were again on the poop, watching, with 
melancholy interest, the last shadows cast by Spanish land, 
while two seamen were at work near them, splicing a rope 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 237 

that had been chafed asunder. The latter were seated on the 
deck, and as, out of respect to the admiral, they had taken 
their places a little on one side, their presence was not at first 
noted. 

" There setteth the sun beneath the waves of the wide Atlan- 
tic, Senor ■Gutierrez," observed the admiral, who was ever cau- 
tious to use one or the other of Luis' feigned appellations, when- 
ever any person,was near. " There the sun quitteth us, Pero, 
and in his daily course I see a proof of the globular form of the 
earth ; and of the truth of a theory which teacheth us that 
Cathay may be reached by the western voyage." 

" I am ever ready to admit the wisdom of all your plans, ex- 
pectations, and thoughts, Senor Don Christoval," returned the 
young man, punctiliously observant of respect, both in speech 
and manner; u but I confess I cannot see what the daily course 
of the sun has to do with the position of Cathay, or with the 
road that leads to it. We know that the great luminary 
travelleth the heavens without ceasing, that it cometh up out of 
the sea in the morning, and goeth down to its watery bed at 
night ; but this it doth on the coast of Castile, as well as on 
that of Cathay ; and, therefore, to me it doth appear, that no 
particular inference, for or against our success, is to be drawn 
from the circumstance." 

As this was said, the two sailors ceased working, looking 
curiously up into the face of the admiral, anxious to hear his 
reply. By this movement Luis perceived that one was Pepe, 
to whom he gave a nod of recognition, while the other was a 
stranger. The last had every appearance of a thorough-bred 
seaman of that period, or of being, what would have been 
termed in English, and the more northern languages of Europe, 
a regular " sea-dog;" a term that expresses the idea of a man 
so completely identified with the ocean by habit, as to have had 
his exterior, his thoughts, his language, and even his morality, 
colored by the association. This sailor was approaching fifty, 
was short, square, athletic, and still active, but there was a mix- 
ture of the animal with the intellectual creature about his coarse, 



238 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

heavy features, that is very usual in the countenances of men 
of native humor and strong sense, whose habits have been coarse 
and sensual. That he was a prime seaman, Columbus knew at 
a glance, not only from his general appearance, but from his 
occupation, which was such as only fell to the lot of the most 
skilful men of every crew. 

" I reason after this fashion, Senor," answered the admiral, 
as soon as his eye turned from the glance that he, too, had 
thrown upon the men; "the sun is not made to journey thus 
around the earth without a sufficient motive, the providence of 
God being ruled by infinite wisdom. It is not probable that a 
luminary so generous and useful should be intended to waste 
any of its benefits ; and we are certain already that day and 
night journey westward over this earth as far as it is known to 
us, whence I infer that the system is harmonious, and the bene- 
fits of the great orb are unceasingly bestowed on man, reaching 
one spot on the earth as it quits another. The sun that hath 
just left us is still visible in the Azores, and will be seen again 
at Smyrna, and among the Grecian Islands, an hour, or more, 
before it again meets our eyes. Nature hath designed naught 
for uselessness ; and I believe that Cathay will be enlightened 
by that ball which hath just left us, while we shall be in the 
deepest hour of the night, to return by its eastern path, across 
the great continent of Asia, and to greet us again in the morn- 
ing. In a word, friend Pedro, that which Sol is now doing with 
such nimble speed in the heavens, we are more humbly imitat- 
ing in our own caravels ; give us sufficient time, and we, too, 
might traverse the earth, coming in from our journey by the 
land of the Tartars and the Persians.' ' 

" From all of which you infer that the world is round, where- 
in we are to find the certainty of our success ?" 

" This is so true, Senor de Muiios, that I should be sorry to 
think any man who now saileth under my command did not 
admit it. Here are two seamen who have been listening to our 
discourse, and we will question them, that we may know the 
opinions of men accustomed to the ocean. Thou art the hus- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 239 

band with whom I held discourse on the sands, the past even- 
ing,' and thy name is Pepe ?" 

" Sefior Almirante, your Excellency's memory doth me too 
much honor, in not forgetting a face that is altogether unworthy 
of being noticed and remembered." 

"It is an honest face, friend, and no doubt speaketh for a 
true heart. I shall count on thee as a sure support, let things 
go as they may. " 

"His Excellency hath not only a right to command me, as her 
Highness' admiral, but he hath now the good-will of Monica, 
and that is much the same as having gained her husband." 

"I thank thee, honest Pepe, and shall count on thee, with 
certainty, in future," answered Columbus, turning toward 
the other seaman — "And thou, shipmate — thou hast the air 
of one that the sight of troubled water will not alarm — thou 
hast a name ?" 

" That I have, noble admiral," returned the fellow, looking 
up with a freedom that denoted one used to have his say ; 
" though it hath neither a Don, nor a Senor, to take it in 
tow. My intimates commonly call out Sancho, when pressed 
for time, and when civility gets the better of haste, they add 
Mundo, making Sancho Mundo for the whole name of a very 
poor man." 

" Mundo is a large name for so small a person," said the ad- 
miral, smiling, for he foresaw the expediency of having friends 
among his crew, and knew men sufficiently to understand that, 
while undue familiarity undermined respect, a little unbending 
had a tendency to win hearts. " I wonder that thou shouldst 
venture to wear a sound so lofty !" 

" I tell my fellows, your Excellency, that Mundo is my title, 
and not my name ; but that I am greater than kings, even, 
who are content to take their titles from a part of that, of which 
I bear all." 

" And were thy father and thy mother called Mundo, also ? 
Or, is this name taken in order to give thee an occasion to 
show thy smartness, when questioned by thy officers ?" 



240 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

"As for the good people you deign to mention, Senor Don 
Almirante, I shall leave them to answer for themselves, and 
that for the simple reason that I do not know how they were 
called, or whether they had any names at all. They tell me I 
was found, when a few hours old, under a worn-out basket at 
the ship-yard gate of old" — 

" Never mind the precise spot, friend Sancho — thou wert 
found with a basket for a cradle, and that maketh a volume in 
thy history, at once." 

"Nay, Excellency, I would not leave the spot a place of 
dispute hereafter — but it shall be as you please. They say no 
one here knoweth exactly where -we are going, and it will be 
more suitable that the like ignorance should rest over the 
places whence we came. But having the world before me, 
they that christened me gave me as much of it as was to be got 
by a name." 

" Thou hast been long a mariner, Sancho Mundo — if Mundo 
thou wilt be." 

" So long, Senor, that it sickeneth me, and taketh away the 
appetite to walk on solid ground. Being so near the gate, it 
was no great matter to put me into the ship-yard, and I was 
launched one day in a caravel, and got to sea in her, no one 
knows how. From that time I have submitted to fate, and go 
out again, as soon as possible, after I come into port." 

" And by what lucky chance have I obtained thy services, 
good Sancho, in this great expedition ?" 

" The authorities of Moguer took me under the queen's or- 
der, your Excellency, thinking that this voyage would be more 
to my mind than another, as it was likely never to have an 
end." 

" Art thou a compelled adventurer, on this service ?" 

" Not I, Senor Don Almirante, although they who sent me 
here fancy as much. It is natural for a man to wish to see his 
estates, once in his life, and I am told that we are bound on a 
voyage to the other side of the world. God forbid that I should 
hold aloof, on such an occasion." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 241 

"Thou art a Christian, Sancho, and hast a desire to aid in 
tarrying the cross among the heathen?" 

" Seiior, your Excellency, Don Almirante, it matters little to 
Sancho with what the barque is laden, so that she do not need 
much pumping, and that the garlic is good. If I am not a very 
devout Christian, it is the fault .of them that found me near the 
ship-yard gate, since the church and the font are both within 
call from that very spot. I know that Pepe, here, is a Chris- 
tian, Senor, for I saw him in the arms of the priest, and I 
doubt not that there are old men at Moguer who csfti testify to 
as much in my behalf. At all hazards, noble Admiral, I will 
take on myself to say that I am neither Jew, nor Mussulman." 

" Sancho, thou hast that about thee, that bespeakest a skilful 
and bold mariner. " 

" For both of these qualities, Senor Don Colon, let others 
speak. When the gale cometh, your own eyes may judge of 
the first ; and when the caravel shall reach the edge of the earth, 
whither some think it is bound, there will be a good occasion 
to see who can, and who cannot, look off without trembling." 

"It is enough: I count both thee and Pepe as among my 
truest followers." As Columbus said this, he walked away, re- 
suming the dignified gravity that usually was seated in his 
countenance, and which so much aided his authority, by im- 
pressing the minds of others with respect. In a few minutes he 
and Luis descended to their cabin. 

" I marvel, Sancho," said Pepe, as soon as he and his mess- 
mate were left alone on the poop, "that thou wilt venture to 
use thy tongue so freely, even in the presence of one that 
beareth about with him the queen's authority ! Dost thou not 
fear to offend the admiral V 

"So much for having a wife and a child ! Canst thou not 
make any difference between them that have had ancestors and 
who have descendants, and one that hath no other tie in the 
world than his name ? The Senor Don Almirante is either an 
exceeding great man, and chosen by Providence to open the 
way into the unknown seas of which he speaketh ; or he is but a 



242 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

hungry Genoese, that is leading us he knoweth not whither, that 
he may eat, and drink, and sleep, in honor, while we are toiling 
at his heels, like patient mules dragging the load that the horse 
despiseth. In the one case, he is too great and exalted to heed 
idle words ; and in the other, what is there too bad for a Cas- 
tilian to tell him ?" 

" Ay, thou art fond of calling thyself a Castilian, in spite of 
the ship-yard and the basket, and notwithstanding Moguer is 
in Seville." 

u Harkee», Pepe ; is not the queen of Castile our mistress? 
And are not subjects — true and lawful subjects, I mean, like 
thee and me — are not such subjects worthy of being the queen's 
countrymen? Never disparage thyself, good Pepe, for thou 
wilt ever find the world ready enough to do that favor for thee. 
As to this Genoese, he shall be either friend or enemy to San- 
cho ; if the first, I expect much consolation from it ; if the last, 
let him hunt for his Cathay till doomsday, he shall be never the 
wiser." 

" Well, Sancho, if words can mar a voyage, or make a voy- 
age, thou art a ready mariner ; none know how to discourse 
better than thou." 

Here the men both rose, having completed their work, and 
they left the poop, descending among the rest of the crew. 
Columbus had not miscalculated his aim, his words and condes- 
cension having produced a most favorable effect on the mind of 
Sancho Mundo, for so the man was actually called ; and in gain- 
ing one of as ready a wit and loose a tongue for a friend, he 
obtained an ally who was not to be despised. Of sueh materials, 
and with the support of such instruments as this, is success too 
often composed ; it being possible for the discovery of a world, 
even, to depend on the good word of one less qualified to in- 
fluence opinions than Sancho Mundo. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 243 



CHAPTER XV. 

" While you here do snoring lie, 
Open-ey 1 d conspiracy 
His time doth take : 
If of life you keep a care, 
Shake off slumber, and beware ; 
Awake ! Awake I" 

Akiel. 

The wind continuing fair, the three vessels made good prog- 
ress in the direction of the Canaries; Sunday, in particular, 
proving a propitious day, the expedition making more than one 
hundred and twenty miles in the course of the twenty-four 
hours. The wind still continued favorable, and on the morning 
of Monday, the 6th of August, Columbus was cheerfully con- 
versing with Luis, and one or two other companions who were 
standing near him on the poop, when the Pinta was seen sud- 
denly to take in her forward sails, and to come up briskly, not 
to say awkwardly, to the wind. This manoeuvre denoted some 
accident, and the Santa Maria fortunately having the advantage 
of the wind, immediately edged away to speak her consort. 

"How now, Senor Martin Alonzo," hailed the admiral, as 
the two caravels came near enough together to speak each other. 
" For what reason hast thou so suddenly paused in thy course ?" 

"Fortune would have it so, Senor Don Christoval, seeing 
that the rudder of the good caravel hath broken loose, and we 
must fain secure it ere we may again trust ourselves to the 
breeze." 

A severe frown came over the grave countenance of the great 
navigator, and after bidding Martin Alonzo do his best to repair 
the damage, he paced the deck, greatly disturbed, fcr several 
minutes. Observing how much the admiral took this accident 



244 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

to heart, the rest descended to the deck below, leaving Colum- 
bus alone with the pretended groom of the king's chamber. 

" I trust, Senor, this is no serious injury, or one in any way 
likely to retard our advance," said Luis, after manifesting that 
respect which all near him felt for the admiral, by a pause. " I 
know honest Martin Alonzo to be a ready seaman, and should 
think his expedients might easily serve to get us as far as the 
Canaries, where greater damages can meet with their remedies." 

" Thou say'st true, Luis, and we will hope for the best. I 
feel regret the sea is so high that we can offer no assistance to 
the Pinta, but Martin Alonzo is, indeed, an expert mariner, audi 
on his ingenuity we must rely. My concern, however, hath 
another and a deeper source than the unloosing of this rudder, 
serious as such an injury ever is to a vessel at sea. Thou know st 
that the Pinta hath been furnished to the service of the queen, 
under the order claiming the forfeited duty from the delinquents 
of Palos, and sorely against the will of the caravel's owners 
hath the vessel been taken. Now these persons, Gomez Eascon 
and Christoval Quintero, are on board her, and, I question not, 
have designed this accident. Their artifices were practised long 5 
to our delay, before quitting the haven, and, it would seem, are 
to be continued to our prejudice here on the open ocean." 

" By the allegiance I owe the Dona Isabella! Senor Don 
Christoval, but I would find a speedy cure for such a treason, 
if the office of punishment rested with me. Let me jump into 
the skiff and repair to the Pinta, where I will tell these Masters 
Rascon and Quintero, that should their rudder ever dare to break 
loose again, or should any other similar and untoward accident 
chance to arrive, the first shall be hanged at the yard of his 
own caravel, and the last be cast into the sea to examine into 
the state of her bottom, the rudder included." 

" We may not practice such high authority without great 
occasion and perfect certainty of guilt. I hold it to be wiser 
to seek another caravel at the Canaries, for, by this accident, I 
well seejsve shall not be rid of the artifices of the two owners, 
Until we arc rid of their vessel. It will be hazardous to launch 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



245 



the skiff in this sea, or I would proceed to the Pinta myself; 
but as it is, let us have confidence in Martin Alonzo and his 
skill." 

Columbus thus encouraged the people of the Pinta to exert 
themselves, and in about an hour or two, the three vessels were 
again making the best of their way toward the Canaries. Not- 
withstanding the delay, nearly ninety miles were made good in 
the course of the day and night. But the following morning 
the rudder again broke loose, and, as the damage was more se- 
rious than in the former instance, it was still more difficult to 
repair. These repeated accidents gave the admiral great con- 
cern, for he took them to be so many indications of the dis- 
affection of his followers. He fully determined, in consequence, 
to get rid of the Pinta, if it were possible to find another suit- 
able vessel among the islands. As the progress of the vessels 
was much retarded by the accident, although the w T ind con- 
tinued favorable, the expedition only got some sixty miles, this 
day, nearer to its place of destination. 

On the following morning, the three vessels came within 
hail of each other ; and a comparison of the nautical skill of the 
different navigators, or pilots, as it was then the custom to style 
them, took place, each offering his opinion as to the position 
of the vessels. 

It was not the least of the merits of Columbus, that he suc- 
ceeded in his great experiment with the imperfect aid of the 
instruments then in use. The mariner's compass, it is true, had 
been in common service quite a century, if not longer, though 
its variations — a knowledge of which is scarcely less important 
in long voyages than a knowledge of the instrument itself— were 
then unknown to seamen, who seldom ventured far enough 
from the land to note these mysteries of nature, and who, as a 
class, still relied almost as much on the ordinary position of the 
heavenly bodies to ascertain their routes, as on the nicer re- 
sults of calculation. Columbus, however, was a striking ex- 
ception to this little-instructed class, having made himself 
thoroughly acquainted with all the learning of the period that 

n 



216 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

could be applied in his profession, or which might aid him m 
effecting the great purpose for which alone he now seemed to live. 

As might be expected, the comparison resulted altogether in 
the admiral's favor, the pilots in general being soon convinced 
that he alone knew the true position of the vessels, a fact 
that was soon unanswerably determined by the appearance of 
the summits of the Canaries, which hove up out of the ocean, 
in a south-easterly direction, resembling well-defined dark 
clouds clustering in the horizon. As objects like these are seen 
at a great distance at sea, more especially in a transparent at- 
mosphere, and the wind became light and variable, the vessels, 
notwithstanding, were unable to reach Grand Canary until 
Thursday, the 8th of August, or nearly a week after they had left 
Palos. There they all ran in, and anchored in the usual haven. 
Columbus immediately set about making an inquiry for another 
caravel, but, proving unsuccessful, he sailed for Gomera, Avhere 
he believed it might be easier to obtain the craft he wanted. 
While the admiral was thus employed with the Santa Maria 
and the Nina, Martin Alonzo remained in port, being unable to 
keep company in the crippled condition of the Pinta. But no 
suitable vessel being found, Columbus reluctantly returned to 
Grand Canary, and, after repairing the Pinta, which vessel was 
badly caulked, among the other devices that had been adopted 
to get her freed from the service, he sailed again for Gomera, 
from which island he was to take his final departure. 

During these several changes, a brooding discontent began to 
increase among most of the common mariners, while some even 
of a higher class, were not altogether free from the most melan- 
choly .apprehensions for the future. While passing from Grand 
Canary to Gomera, with all his vessels, Columbus was again at his 
post, with Luis and his usual companions near him, when the 
admiral's attention was drawn to a conversation that took place 
between a group of the men, who had collected near the main- 
mast. It was night, and there being little wind, the voices 
of the excited disputants reached further than they themselves 
were aware. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 247 

"I tell thee, Pepe," said the most vociferous ard most 
earnest of the speakers, " that the night is not darker than 
the future of this crew. Look to the west, and what dost see 
there ? "Who hath ever heard of land, after he hath quitted the 
Azores ; and who is so ignorant as not to know that Providence 
hath placed water around all the continents, with a few islands 
as stopping-places for mariners, and spread the broad ocean be- 
yond, with an intention to rebuke an over-eager curiosity to pry 
into matters that savor more of miracles than of common 
worldly things?" 

" This is well, Pero," answered Pepe; " but I know that 
Monica thinks the admiral is sent of God, and that we may 
look forward to great discoveries, through his means ; and 
most especially to the spreading of religion amqng the hea- 
thens." 

" Ay, thy Monica should have been in Dona Isabella's seat, 
so learned and positive is she in all matters, whether touch- 
ing her own woman's duties, or thine own. She is thy 
queen, Pepe, as all in Moguer will swear ; and there are some 
who say she would gladly govern the port, as she governeth 
thee." 

" Say naught against the mother of my child, Pero," inter- 
rupted Pepe, angrily. " I can bear thy idle words against 
myself, but he that speaketh ill of Monica will have a dangerous 
enemy." 

" Thou art bold of speech, Pero, when away a hundred 
leagues from thine own better nine-tenths," put in a voice that 
Columbus and Luis both knew, on the instant, to belong to 
Sancho Mundo, " and art bold enough to jeer Pepe touching 
Monica, when we all well know who commandeth in a certain 
cabin, where thou art as meek as a hooked dolphin, whatever 
thou may'st be here. But, enough of thy folly about women , 
let us reason upon our knowledge as mariners, if thou wilt ; 
instead of asking questions of one like Pepe, who is too 
young to have had much experience, I offer myself as thy 
catechist." 



248 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" What liast thou, then, to say about this unknown land that 
lieth beyond the great ocean, where man hath never been, or is 
at all likely to go, with followers such as these ?" 

"I have this to say, silly and idle-tongued Pero — that the 
time was when even the Canaries were unknown ; when mari- 
ners did not dare to pass the straits, and when the Portuguese 
knew nothing of their mines and Guinea, lands that I myself 
have visited, and where the noble Don Christoval hath also 
been, as I know on the testimony of mine own eyes." 

" And what hath Guinea, or what have the mines of the 
Portuguese to do with this western voyage ? All know that 
there is a country called Africa ; and what is there surprising 
that mariners should reach a land that is known to exist ; but 
who knoweth that the ocean hath other continents, any more 
than that the heavens have other earths ?" 

" This is well, Pero," observed an attentive by-stander ; 
"and Sancho will have to drain his wits to answer it." 

" It is well for those who wag their tongues, like women, 
without thought of what they say," coolly returned Sancho, 
" but will have little weight with Dona Isabella, or Don Al- 
mirante. Harkee, Pero, thou art like one that hath trodden 
the path between Palos and Moguer so often, that thou fanciest 
there is no road to Seville or Granada. There must be a be- 
ginning to all things ; and this voyage is, out of doubt, the 
beginning of voyages to Cathay. We go west, instead of east, 
because it is the shorter way ; and because, moreover, it is the 
only way for a caravel. Now, answer me, messmate ; is it pos- 
sible for a craft, let her size or rig be what it may, to pass over 
the hills and valleys of a continent — I mean under her canvas, 
and by fair sailing ?" 

Sancho waited for a reply, and received a common and com- 
plete admission of the impossibility of the thing. 

" Then cast your eyes at the admiral's chart, in the morning, 
as he keepeth it spread before him on the poop, yonder, and 
you will see that there is land from one pole to the other, on 
each side of the Atlantic, thereby rendering navigation impos- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 249 

sible, in any other direction than this we are now taking. The 
notion of Pero, therefore, runs in the teeth of- nature." 

"This is so true, Pero," exclaimed another, the rest assent- 
ing, " that thy mouth ought to be shut." 

But Pero had a mouth that was not very easily closed ; and 
it is probable that his answer would have been to the full as 
acute and irrefutable as that of Sancho, had not a common ex- 
clamation of alarm and horror burst from all around him. The 
night was sufficiently clear to permit the gloomy outlines of the 
Peak of Teneriffe to be distinctly visible, even at some dis- 
tance ; and, just at that moment, flashes of flame shot upward 
from its pointed summit, illuminating, at instants, the huge 
pile, and then leaving it in shadowy darkness, an object of 
mystery and terror. Many of the seamen dropped on their 
knees and began to tell their beads, while all, as it might be 
instinctively, crossed themselves. Next arose a general mur- 
mur ; and in a few minutes, the men who slept were awoke, 
and appeared among their fellows, awe-struck and astounded 
spectators of the phenomenon. It was soon settled that the 
attention of the admiral should be drawn to this strange event, 
and Pero was selected for the spokesman. 

All this time, Columbus and his companions remained on the 
poop, and, as might have been expected, this unlooked-for 
change in the appearance of the Peak had not escaped their 
attention. Too enlightened to be alarmed by it, they were 
watching the workings of the mountain, when Pero, accompa- 
nied by nearly every sailor in the vessel, appeared on the quarter- 
deck. Silence having been obtained, Pero opened the subject of 
his mission with a zeal that was not a little stimulated by his fears. 

" Senor Almirante," he commenced, " we have come to pray 
your Excellency to look at the summit of the Island of Tene- 
riffe, where we all think we see a solemn warning against 
persevering in sailing into the unknown Atlantic. It is truly 
time for men to remember their weakness, and how much they 
owe to the goodness of God, when even the mountains vomit 
flames and smoke !" 



2f>0 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Have any here ever navigated the Mediterranean, or visited 
the island of which Don Ferdinand, the honored consort of our 
lady Jthe queen, is master V demanded Columbus, calmly. 

" Senor Don Almirante," hastily answered Sancho, " I have 
done so, unworthy as I may seem to have enjoyed that advan- 
tage. And I have seen Cyprus, and Alexandria, and even 
Stamboul, the residence of the Great Turk." 

" Well, then, thou may'st have also seen iEtna, another 
mountain which continueth to throw up those flames, in the 
midst of a nature and a scene on which Providence would seem 
to have smiled with unusual benignity, instead of angrily frown- 
ing, as ye seem to imagine." 

Columbus then proceeded to give his people an explanation 
of the causes of volcanoes, referring to the gentlemen around 
him to corroborate the fidelity of his statements. He told them 
that he looked upon this little eruption as merely a natural 
occurrence ; or, if he saw any omen at all in the event, it was 
propitious rather than otherwise ; Providence seeming disposed 
to light them on their way. Luis and the rest next descended 
among the crew, where they used their reasoning powers in 
quieting an alarm that, at first, had threatened to be serious. 
For the moment they were successful, or perhaps it would be 
better to say that they succeeded completely, so far as the 
phenomenon of the volcano was concerned, and this less by the 
arguments of the more intelligent of the officers, than by means 
of the testimony of Sancho, and one or two others of the com- 
mon men, who had seen similar scenes elsewhere. With diffi- 
culties like these had the great navigator to contend, even after 
he had passed years in solicitations to obtain the limited means 
which had been finally granted, in order to effect one of the 
sublimest achievements that had yet crowned the enterprise of 
man ! 

The vessels reached Gomera on the 2d of September, where 
they remained several days, in order to complete their repairs, 
and to finish taking in their supplies, ere they finally left the 
civilized abodes of man, and what might then be deemed the 



MEROat)ES OF CASTILE. 251 

limits of the known earth. The arrival of such an expedition, 
in an age when the means of communication were so few that 
events were generally their own announcers, had produced a 
strong sensation among the inhabitants of the different islands 
visited by the adventurers. Columbus was held in high honor 
among them, not only on account of the commission he had 
received from the two sovereigns, but on account of the magni- 
tude and the romantic character of his undertaking. 

There existed a common belief among all the adjacent is- 
lands, including Madeira, the Azores, and the Canaries, that 
land lay to the westward ; their inhabitants living under a sin- 
gular delusion in this particular, which the admiral had an 
occasion to detect, during his second visit to Gomera. Among 
the most distinguished persons who were then on the island, 
was Dona Inez Peraza, the mother of the Count of Gomera. 
She was attended by a crowd of persons, not only belonging to 
her own, but.who had come from other islands to do her honor. 
She entertained the admiral in a manner suited to his high 
rank, admitting to her society such of the adventurers as 
Columbus saw fit to point out as worthy of the honor. Of 
course the pretended Pedro de Munos, or Pero Gutierrez, as 
he was now indifferently termed, was of the number ; as, indeed, 
were most of those who might be deemed any way suited to so 
high and polished a society. 

"I rejoice, Don Christopher," said Doiia Inez Peraza, on 
this occasion, " that their Highnesses have at length yielded to 
your desire to solve this great problem, not only on account of 
our Holy Church, which, as you say, hath so deep an inter- 
est in your success, and the honor of the two sovereigns, and 
the welfare of Spain, and all the other great considerations 
that we have so freely touched upon in our discourse already, 
but on account of the worthy inhabitants of the Fortunate Is- 
lands, who have not only many traditions touching land in the 
west, but most of whim believe that they have more than 
once seen it, in that quarter, in the course of their lives. " 

"I have heard of this, noble lady, and would be grateful 



252 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

to have the account from the mouths of eye-witnesses, now we 
are here, together, conversing freely concerning that which is 
of so much interest to us all." 

"Then, Senor, I will entreat this worthy cavalier, who is 
every way capable of doing the subject justice, to be spokesman 
for us, and to let you know what we all believe in these islands, 
and what so many of us fancy we have seen. Acquaint the 
admiral, Senor Dama, I pray thee, of the singular yearly 
view that we get of unknown land lying afar off, in the At- 
lantic." 

"Most readily, Dona Inez, and all the more so at your gra- 
cious bidding," returned the person addressed, who disposed 
himself to tell the story, with a readiness that the lovers of the 
wonderful are apt to betray when a fitting opportunity offers to 
indulge a favorite propensity. "The illustrious admiral hath 
probably heard of the island of St. Brandan, that lieth some 
eighty or a hundred leagues to the westward of Ferro, and 
which hath been so often seen, but which no navigator hath yet 
been able to reach, in our days at least ?" 

" I have often heard of this fabled spot, Senor," the admiral 
gravely replied ; " but pardon me if I say that the land never 
yet existed, which a mariner hath seen and yet a mariner hath 
not reached." 

"Nay, noble admiral," interrupted a dozen eager voices, 
among which that of the lady, herself, was very distinctly audi- 
ble, " that it hath been seen most here know ; and that it hath 
never been reached, is a fact to which more than one disap- 
pointed pilot can testify." 

" That which we have seen, we know; and that which we 
know, we can describe," returned Columbus, steadily. "Let 
any man tell me in what meridian, or on what parallel this St. 
Brandan, or St. Barandon, lieth, and a week shall make me also 
certain of its existence." 

"I know little of meridians or parallels, Don Christopher," 
said the Senor Dama, " but I have some ideas of visible things. 
This island have I often seen, more or less plainly at different 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 253 

times ; and that, too, under the serenest skies, and at occasions 
when it was not possible greatly to mistake either its form or 
its dimensions. Once I remember to have seen the sun set 
behind one of its heights." 

" This is plain evidence, and such as a navigator should re- 
spect ; and yet do I take what you imagine yourself to have 
seen, Senor, to be some illusion of the atmosphere." 

" Impossible ! — impossible !" was said, or echoed, by a dozen 
voices. " Hundreds yearly witness the appearance of St. Bran- 
dan, and its equally sudden and mysterious disappearance." 

" Therein, noble lady and generous cavalier, lieth the error 
into which ye have fallen. Ye see the Peak the year round ; 
and he who will cruise a hundred miles, north or south, east or 
west, of it, will continue to see it, the year round, except on 
such days as the state of the atmosphere may forbid. The 
land which God hath created stationary, will be certain to 
remain stationary, until disturbed by some great convulsion 
that cometh equally of his providence and his laws." 

"All this may be true, Senor; doubtless it is true; but 
every "rule hath its exceptions. You will not deny that God 
ruleth the world mysteriously, and that his ends are not always 
visible to human eyes. Else, why hath the Moor so long been 
permitted to rule in Spain ? why hath the Infidel, at this mo- 
ment, possession of the Holy Sepulchre ? why have the sov- 
ereigns been so long deaf to your own well-grounded wishes 
and entreaties to be permitted to carry their banners, in 
company with the cross, to Cathay, whither you are now 
bound ? Who knoweth that these appearances of St. Brandan 
may not be given as signs to encourage one like yourself, bent 
on still greater ends than even reaching its shores?" 

Columbus was an enthusiast ; but his was an enthusiasm that 
was seated in his reverence for the acknowledged mysteries of 
religion, which sought no other support from things incompre- 
hensible, than might reasonably be thought to belong to the 
exercise of infallible wisdom, and which manifested a proper 
reverence for a Divine Power. Like most of that period, he 



254 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

believed in modern miracles ; and his dependence on the direct 
worldly efficacy of votive offerings, penances, and prayers, was 
such as marked the age in general, and his calling in particular. 
Still, his masculine understanding rejected the belief of vulgar 
prodigies ; and while he implicitly thought himself set apart 
and selected for the great work before him, he was not disposed 
to credit that an airy exhibition of an island was placed in the 
west to tempt mariners to follow its shadowy outline to the 
more distant regions of Cathay. 

" That I feel the assurance of the Providence of God having 
selected me as the humble instrument of connecting Europe 
with Asia, by means of a direct voyage by sea, is certain," 
returned the navigator, gravely, though his eye lighted with its 
latent enthusiasm ; " but I am far from indulging in the weak- 
ness of thinking that direct miraculous agencies are to be 
used to guide me on my way. It is more in conformity to the 
practice of divine wisdom, and certainly more grateful to my 
own self-love, that the means employed are such as a discreet 
pilot, and the most experienced philosophers, might feel proud 
in finding themselves selected to display. My thoughts have 
first been turned to the contemplation of this subject; then hath 
my reason been enlightened by a due course of study and re- 
flection, and science hath aided in producing the conviction nec- 
essary to impel myself to proceed, and to enable me to induce 
others to join in this enterprise." 

" And do all your followers, noble admiral, act under the 
same guidance?" demanded the Dona Inez, glancing at Luis" 
whose manly graces, and martial aspect, had found favor in the 
eyes of most of the ladies of the island. "Is the Senor 
Gutierrez equally enlightened in this manner? and hath he, 
too, devoted his nights to study, in order that the cross may be 
carried to the heathen, and Castile and Cathay may be more 
closely united ?" 

"The Senor Gutierrez is a willing adventurer, Senora, but he 
must be the expounder of his own motives." 

" Then we will call on the cavalier, himself, for an answer. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 255 

These ladies feel a desire to know what may have impelled one 
who would be certain to succeed at the court of Dona Isabella, 
and in the Moorish wars, to join in such an expedition." 

" The Moorish wars are ended, Senora," replied Luis, smil- 
ing ; " and Dona Isabella, and all the ladies of her court, 
most favor the youths who show a manly disposition to serve 
the interests, and to advance the honor of Castile, I know 
very little of philosophy, and have still smaller pretensions to 
the learning of churchmen ; but I think I see Cathay before 
me, shining like a brilliant star in the heavens, and am willing 
to adventure body and soul in its search." 

Many pretty exclamations of admiration broke from the circle 
of fair listeners ; it being most easy for spirit to gain applause, 
when it is recommended by high personal advantages, and 
comes from the young and favored. That Columbus, a 
weather-worn veteran of the ocean, should see fit to risk a life 
that was already drawing near its close, in a rash attempt to 
pry into the mysteries of the Atlantic, seemed neither so com- 
mendable, nor so daring, but many discovered high qualities in 
the character of one who was just entering on his career, and 
that under auspices apparently so flattering, and who threw all 
his hopes on the uncertain chances of success in a scheme so 
unusual. Luis was human, and he was in the full enjoyment of 
the admiration his enterprise had evidently awakened among so 
many sensitive young creatures, when Dona Inez most inoppor- 
tunely interposed to interrupt his happiness, and to w T ound his 
self-esteem. 

" This is having more honorable views than my letters from 
Seville attribute to one youth, -who belongeth to the proudest 
of our Castilian houses, and whose titles alone should invite 
him to add new lustre to a name that hath so long been the 
Spanish boast," resumed the Senora Peraza. " The reports 
speak of his desire to rove, but in a manner unworthy of his 
rank ; and that, too, in a way to serve neither the sovereigns, 
bis country, nor himself." 

" And who may this misguided youth be, Senora ?" eagerly 



256 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

inquired Luis, too much elated by the admiration he had just 
excited to anticipate the answer. " A cavalier thus spoken of, 
needeth to be warned of his reputation, that he may be stimu- 
lated to attempt better things.' ' 

" His name is no secret, since the court speaketh openly of 
his singular and ill-judged career ; and it is said that even his 
love hath been thwarted in consequence. I mean a cavalier of 
no less lineage and name than Don Luis de Bobadilla, the Count 
ofLlera." 

It is said that listeners seldom hear good of themselves, and 
Luis was now fated to verify the truth of the axiom. He felt 
the blood rushing to his face, and it required a strong effort at 
self-command to prevent him from breaking out in exclamations, 
that would probably have contained invocations of half the 
patron saints he had ever heard of, had he not happily suc- 
ceeded in controlling the sudden impulse. Gulping the words 
he had been on the point of uttering, he looked round, with an 
air of defiance, as if seeking the countenance of some man who 
might dare even to smile at what had been said. Luckily, at 
that moment, Columbus had drawn all of the males present 
around himself, in warm discussion of the probable existence of 
the island of St. Brandan ; and Luis nowhere met a smile, with 
which he could conveniently quarrel, that had a setting of beard 
to render it hostile. Fortunately, the gentle impulses that are 
apt to influence a youthful female, induced one of Dona Inez's 
fair companions to speak, and that in a way greatly to relieve 
the feelings of our hero. 

"True, Senora," rejoined the pretty young advocate, the 
first tones of whose voice had an effect to calm the tempest that 
was rising in the bosom of the young man ; "true Senora, it 
is said that Don Luis is a wanderer, and one of unsettled tastes 
and habits, but it is also said he hath a most excellent heart, is 
generous as the dews of heaven themselves, and carrieth the 
very best lance of Castile, as he is also like to carry off the 
fairest maiden." 

" It is vain, Senor de Muiios, for churchmen to preach, and 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 257 

parents to frown," said Dona Inez, smiling, " while the beauti- 
ful and young will prize courage, and deeds in arms, and an 
open hand, before the more homely virtues commended by our 
holy religion, and so zealously inculcated by its servants. The 
unhorsing of a knight or two in the tourneys, and the rallying 
a broken squadron under a charge of the Infidel, counteth far 
more than years of sobriety, and weeks of penance and prayer." 

u How know we that the cavalier you mention, Senora, may 
not have his weeks of penance and his hours of prayer?" an- 
swered Luis, who had now found his voice. " Should he be 
so fortunate as to enjoy a conscientious religious adviser, he 
can scarce escape both, prayer being so often ordered in the 
way of penance. He seemeth, indeed, to be a miserable dog, 
and I wonder not that his mistress holdeth him cheap. Is the 
name of the lady, also, given in your letter ?" 

" It is. She is the Dona Maria de las Mercedes de Valverde, 
nearly allied to the Guzmans and the other great houses, and 
one of the fairest maidens of Spain." 

"That is she!" exclaimed Luis; "and one of the most vir- 
tuous, as well as fair, and wise as virtuous !" 

" How now, Seiior, is it possible that you can have sufficient 
knowledge of one so situated, as to speak thus positively of her 
qualities, as well as of her appearance ?" 

" Her beauty I have seen, and of her excellence one may 
speak by report. But doth your correspondent, Senora, say 
aught of what hath become of the graceless lover?" 

" It is rumored that he hath again quitted Spain, and, as is 
supposed, under the grave displeasure of the sovereigns, since 
it hath been remarked that the queen now never nameth him. 
None know the road he hath taken, but there is little doubt 
that he is again roaming the seas, as usual, in quest of low ad- 
ventures among the ports of the east." 

The conversation now changed, and soon after the admiral 
and his attendants repaired to their different vessels. 

" Of a verity, Sefior Don Christoval," said Luis, as he walked 
alone with the great navigator toward the shore, "one little 



258 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

knoweth wlien he is acquiring fame, and when not. Though 
but an indifferent mariner, and no pilot, I find my exploits on 
the ocean are well bruited abroad ! If your Excellency but gain 
half the reputation I already enjoy, by this present expedition, 
you will have reason to believe that your name will not be for- 
gotten by posterity." 

" It is a tribute the great pay for their elevation, Luis," re- 
turned the admiral, " that all their acts are commented on, and 
that they can do little that may be concealed from observation, 
or escape remarks." 

"It would be as well, Senor Almirante, to throw into the 
scales, at once, calumnies, and lies, and uncharitableness, for all 
these are to be added to the list. Is it not wonderful, that a 
young man cannot visit a few foreign lands, in order to increase 
his knowledge and improve his parts, but all the gossips of Cas- 
tile should fill their letters to the gossips of the Canaries, with 
passages touching his movements and demerits ? By the Mar- 
tyrs of the East ! if I were Queen of Castile, there should be a 
law against writing of others' movements, and I do not know, 
but a law against women's writing letters at all !" 

" In which case, Senor de Munos, thou wouldst never possess 
the satisfaction of receiving a missive from the fairest hand in 
Castile." 

" I mean a woman's writing to a woman, Don Christopher. 
As to letters from noble maidens intended to cheer the hearts 
and animate the deeds of cavaliers who adore them, they are 
useful, out of doubt, and the saints be deaf to the miscreant 
who would forbid or intercept them ! No, Senor, I trust that 
travelling hath at least made me liberal, by raising me above 
the narrow prejudices of provinces and cities, and I am far from 
wishing to put an end to letters from mistresses to their knights, 
or from parents to their children, or even from wives to their 
husbands ; but, as for the letters of a gossip to a gossip, by 
your leave, Senor Almirante, I detest them just as much as the 
Eather of Sin detests this expedition of ours !" 

"An expedition, certainly, that he hath no great reason to 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 259 

love," answered. Columbus, smiling; "since it will be followed 
by the light of revelation and the triumph of the cross. But 
what is thy will, friend, that thou seemest in waiting for me, to 
disburden thyself of something ? Thy name is Sancho Mundo, 
if I remember thy countenance?" 

" Senor Don Almirante, your memory hath not mistaken," 
returned the person addressed ; " I am Sancho Mundo, as youi 
Excellency saith, sometimes called Sancho of the Ship- Yard 
Gate. I desire to say a few words concerning the fate of our 
voyage, whenever it shall suit you, noble Senor, to hear me 
where there are no ears present that you distrust." 

"Thou may'st speak freely now ; this cavalier being my con- 
fidant and secretary." 

"It is not necessary that I should tell a great pilot, like your 
Excellency, who is King of Portugal, or what the mariners of 
Lisbon have been about these many years, since you know all 
better than myself. Therefore I will just add, that they are dis- 
covering all the unknown lands they can, for themselves, and 
preventing others, as much as in them lies, from doing the same 
thing." 

" Don John of Portugal is an enlightened prince, fellow, and 
thou wouldst do well to respect his character and rank. His 
Highness is a liberal sovereign, and hath sent many noble expe- 
ditions forth from his harbor." 

"That he hath, Senor, and this last is not the least in its de- 
signs and intentions," answered Sancho, turning a look of 
irony toward the admiral, that showed the fellow had more 
in reserve than he cared to divulge without some wheedling. 
" No one doubts Don John's willingness to send forth expe- 
ditions." 

" Thou hast heard some intelligence, Sancho, that it is prop- 
er I should know ! Speak freely, and rely on my repaying 
any service of this sort to the full extent of its deservings." 

"If your Excellency will have patience to hear me, I will 
give the whole story, with all minuteness and particularity, and 
that in a way to leave no part untold, and all parts to be as 



260 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

easily understood as heart can wish, or a priest in the confes- 
sonal could desire." 

" Speak ; no one will interrupt thee. As thou art frank, so 
will be thy reward." 

"Wall, then, Senor Don Almirante, you must know that 
about eleven years since, I made a voyage from Palos to Sicily, 
in a caravel belonging to the Pinzons, here ; not to Martin 
Alonzo, who commandeth the Pinta, under your Excellency's 
order , but to a kinsman of his late father's, who caused better 
craft to be constructed than we are apt to get in these days of 
hurry, and rotten cordage, and careless caulking, to say nothing 
of the manner in which the canvas is" — 

" Nay, good Sancho," interrupted the impatient Luis, who 
was yet smarting under the remarks of Dona Inez's correspond- 
ent — " thou forgettest night is near, and that the boat is wait- 
ing for the admiral." 

"How should I forget that, Senor, when I can see the sun just 
dipping into the water, and I belong to the boat myself, having 
left it in order to tell the noble admiral what I have to say !" 

"Permit the man to relate his story in his own manner, 
Senor Pedro, I pray thee," put in Columbus. "Naught is 
gained by putting a seamen out in his reckoning." 

" No, your Excellency, or in kicking with a mule. And so, 
as I was saying, I went that voyage to Sicily, and had for a 
messmate one Jose Gordo, a Portuguese by birth, but a man 
who liked the wines of Spain better than the puckering liquors 
of his own country, and so sailed much in Spanish craft. I 
never well knew, notwithstanding, whether Jose was, in heart, 
most of a Portuguese, or a Spaniard, though he was certainly 
but an indifferent Christian." 

"It is to be hoped that his character hath improved," said 
Columbus, calmly. " As I foresee that something is to follow 
on the testimony of this Jose, you will let me say, that an in- 
different Christian is but an indifferent witness. Tell me, at 
once, therefore, what he hath communicated, that I may judge 
for myself of the value of his words." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 201 

" Now, he that doubteth your Excellency will not discover 
Cathay is a heretic, seeing that you have discovered my 
secret without having heard it ! Jose has just arrived, in 
the felucca that is riding near the Santa Maria, and hearing that 
we were an expedition that had one Sancho Mundo engaged in 
it, he came speedily on board of us to see his old shipmate." 

" All that is so plain, that I wonder thou thinkest it worthy 
of relating, Sancho; but, now we have him safe on board the 
good ship, we can come at once to the subject of his commu- 
nication. " 

" That may we, Senor ; and so, without any unnecessary de- 
lay, I will state, that the subject was touching Don Juan of 
Portugal, Don Ferdinand of Aragon, Dona Isabella of Castile, 
your Excellency, Senor Don Almirante, the Senor de Munos 
here, and myself.'' 

"This is a strange company!" exclaimed Luis, laughing, 
while he slipped a piece of eight into the hand of the sailor ; 
" perhaps that may aid thee in shortening the story of the sin- 
gular conjunction." 

" Another, Senor, would bring the tale to an end at once. 
To own the truth, Jose is behind that wall, and as he told me 
he thought his news worth a dobla, he will be greatly displeased 
at finding I have received my half of it, while his half still re- 
maineth unpaid." 

" This, then, will set his mind at rest," said Columbus, plac- 
ing an entire dobla in the hand of the cunning fellow, for the 
admiral perceived by his manner that Sancho had really some- 
thing of importance to communicate. "Thou canst summon 
Jose to thy aid, and deliver thyself, at once, of thy burden." 

Sancho did as directed, and in a minute Jose had appeared, 
had received the dobla, weighed it deliberately on his finger, 
pocketed it, and commenced his tale. Unlike the artful San- 
cho, he told his story at once, beginning at the right end, 
and ceasing to speak as soon as he had no more to communicate. 
The substance of the tale is soon related. Jose had come from 
Ferro, and had seen three armed caravels, wearing the flag of 



262 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Portugal, cruising among the islands, under circumstances that 
left little doubt their object was to intercept the Castiiian expe- 
dition. As the man referred to a passenger or two, who had 
landed within the hour, to corroborate his statement, Columbus 
and Luis immediately sought the lodgings of these persons, in 
order to hear their report of the matter. The result proved 
the sailor had stated nothing but what was true. 

"Of all our difficulties and embarrassments, Luis," resumed 
the admiral, as the two finally proceeded to the shore, "this is 
much the most serious ! We may be detained altogether by 
these treacherous Portuguese, or we may be followed in our 
voyage, and have our fair laurels seized upon by others, and 
all the benefits so justly due for our toil and risk usurped, 
or at least disputed, by men who had not the enterprise 
and knowledge to accept the boon, when fairly offered to 
them." 

"Don John of Portugal must have sent far better knights 
than the Moors of Granada to do the feat," answered Luis, who 
had a Spaniard's distaste for his peninsular neighbors ; "he is 
a bold and learned prince, they say, but the commission and 
ensigns of the sovereign of Castile are not to be disregarded, 
and that, too, in the midst of her own islands, here." 

" We have no force fit to contend with that which hath most 
probably been sent against us. The number and size of our 
vessels are known, and the Portuguese, questionless, have re- 
sorted to the means necessary to effect their purposes, whatever 
those purposes may be. Alas ! Luis, my lot hath been hard, 
though I humbly trust that the end will repay me for all ! 
Years did T sue the Portuguese to enter fairly into this voyage, 
and to endeavor to do that, in all honor, which our gracious 
mistress, Dona Isabella, hath now so creditably commenced ; 
he listened to my reasons and entreaties with cold ears — nay, 
repelled them, with ridicule and disdain ; and yet, here am 1 
scarce fairly embarked in the execution of schemes that they 
have so often derided, than they endeavor to defeat me by vio- 
lence and treachery." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



2G3 



" Noble Don Christoval, we will xlie to a Castilian, ere this 
shall come to pass !" 

" Our only hope is in speedy departure. Thanks to the in- 
dustry and zeal of Martin Alonzo, the Pinta is ready, and we 
may quit Gomera with the morning's sun. I doubt if they w T ill 
have the hardihood to follow us into the trackless and unknown 
Atlantic, without any other guides than their own feeble knowl- 
edge ; and we will depart with the return of the sun. All now 
dependeth on quitting the Canaries unseen." 

As this was said they reached the boat, and were quickly 
pulled on board the Santa Maria. By this time the peaks of 
the islands were towering like gloomy shadows in the atmos- 
phere, and, soon after, the caravels resembled dark, shapeless 
specks, on the unquiet element that washed their hulls. 




20 Jr MERCEDES OF CASTILF. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

" They little thought how pure a light, 
With years, should gather round that day ; 
How love should keep their memories bright — 
How wide a realm their sons should sway." 

Beyant. 

The night that succeeded was one of very varied feelings 
among the adventurers. As soon as Sancho secured the re- 
ward, he had no further scruples about communicating all he 
knew, to any who were disposed to listen ; and long ere Colum- 
bus returned on board the vessel, the intelligence had spread 
from mouth to mouth, until all in the little squadron were ap- 
prised of the intentions of the Portuguese. Many hoped that 
it was true, and that their pursuers might be successful ; any 
fate Joeing preferable, in their eyes, to that which the voyage 
promised ; but, such is the effect of strife, much the larger por- 
tion of the crew were impatient to lift the anchors and to make 
sail, if it were only to get the mastery in the race. Columbus, 
himself, experienced the deepest concern, for it really seemed 
as if a hard fortune was about to snatch the cup from his lips, 
just as it had been raised there, after all his cruel sufferings and 
delays. He consequently passed a night of deep anxiety, and 
was the first to rise in the morning. 

Every one was on the alert with the dawn ; and as the prepa- 
rations had been completed the previous night, by the time the 
sun had risen, the three vessels were under way, the Pinta lead- 
ing, as usual. The wind was light, and the squadron could 
barely gather steerage way ; but as every moment was deemed 
precious, the vessels' heads were kept to the westward. When 
a short time out, a caravel came flapping past them, after having 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 265 

oeen several hours in sight, and the admiral spoke her. She 
proved to be from Ferro, the most southern and western island 
of the group, and had come nearly on the route the expedition 
intended to steer, until they quitted the known seas. 

" Dost thou bring any tidings from Ferro?" inquired Co- 
lumbus, as the strange ship drifted slowly past the Santa Maria ; 
the progress of each vessel being little more than a mile in the 
hour. " Is there aught of interest in that quarter VI 

"Did I know whether, or not, I am speaking to Don Chris- 
topher Columbus, the Genoese that their Highnesses have hon- 
ored with so important a commission, I should feel more war- 
ranty to answer what I have both heard and seen, Senor," was 
the reply. 

"I am Don Christopher himself, their Highnesses' admiral 
and viceroy, for all seas and lands that we may discover, and, as 
thou hast said, a Genoese in birth, though a Castilian by duty, 
and in love to the queen." 

u Then, noble admiral, I may tell you that the Portuguese 
are active, three of their caravels being off Ferro, at this mo- 
ment, with the hope of intercepting your expedition." 

" How is this known, friend, and what reason have I for 
supposing that the Portuguese will dare to send forth caravels, 
with orders to molest those who sail as the officers of Isabella 
the Catholic ? They must know that the Holy Father hath 
lately conferred this title on the two sovereigns, in acknowledg- 
ment of their great services in expelling the Moor from Chris- 
tendom." 

" Senor, there hath been a rumor of that among the islands, 
but little will the Portuguese care for aught of that nature, 
when he deemeth his gold in danger. As I quitted Ferro, I 
spoke the caravels, and have good reason to think that rumor 
doth them no injustice." 

" Did they seem warlike, and made they any pretensions to 
a right to interrupt our voyage ?" 

" To us they said naught of this sort, except to inquire, 
tauntingly, if the illustrious Don Christoval Colon, the great 



266 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

viceroy of the east, sailed on board us. As for preparation, 
Senor, they had many lornbardas, and a multitude of men in 
breast-plates and casques. I doubt if soldiers are as numerous 
at the Azores, as when they sailed." 

"Keep they close in with the island, or stretch they off to 
seaward ?" 

"Mostly the latter, Senor, standing far toward the west in 
the morning, and beating up toward the land as the day 
closeth. Tate the word of an old pilot, Don Christopher, the 
mongrels are there for no good." 

This was barely audible, for, by this time, the caravels had 
drifted past each other, and were soon altogether beyond the 
reach of the voice. 

"Do you believe that the Castilian name standeth so low, 
Don Christopher," demanded Luis, " that these dogs of Portu- 
guese dare do this wrong to the flag of the queen ?" 

" I dread naught from force, beyond detention and frauds, 
certainly ; but these, to me, at this moment, would be little less 
painful than death. Most do I apprehend that these caravels, 
under the pretence of protecting the rights of Don John, are 
directed to follow us to Cathay, in which case we should have 
a disputed discovery, and divided honors. "We must avoid the 
Portuguese, if possible ; to effect which purpose, I intend to 
pass to the westward, without nearing the island of Ferro, any 
closer than may be rendered absolutely indispensable." 

Notwithstanding a burning impatience now beset the admiral, 
and most with him, the elements seemed opposed to his pas- 
sage from among the Canaries, into the open ocean. The wind 
gradually failed, until it became so calm that the sails were 
hauled up, and the three vessels lay, now laying their sides with 
the brine, and now rising to the summit of the ground-swell, 
resembling huge animals that were lazily reposing, under the 
heats' of summer, in drowsy indolence. 

Many was the secret pater, or ave, that was mumbled by the 
mariners, and not a few vows of future prayers were made, in 
the hope of obtaining a breeze. Occasionally it seemed as ii 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 267 

Providence listened to these petitions, for the air would fan the 
cheek, and the sails would fall, in the vain expectation of get- 
ting ahead ; but disappointment as often followed, until all on 
board felt that they were fated to linger under the visitations 
of a calm. Just at nightfall, however, a light air arose, and, 
for a few hours, the wash of the parted waters was audible un- 
der the bows of the vessels, though their way was barely suffi- 
cient to keep them under the command of their helms. About 
midnight, however, even this scarcely perceptible motion was 
lost, and the craft were again lazily wallowing in the ground- 
swells that the gales had sent in from the vast expanse of the 
Western Ocean. 

When the light reappeared, the admiral found himself be- 
tween Gomera and TenerhTe, the lofty peak of the latter casting 
its pointed shadow, like that thrown by a planet, far upon the 
water, until its sharp apex was renewed, in faint mimicry, along 
the glassy surface of the ocean. Columbus was now fearful 
that the Portuguese might employ their boats, or impel some 
light felucca by her sweeps, in order to find out his position ; 
and he wisely directed the sails to be furled, in order to con- 
ceal his vessels, as far as possible, from any prying eyes. The 
season had advanced to the 7th of September, and such was 
the situation of this renowned expedition, exactly five weeks 
after it had left Spain ; for this inauspicious calm occurred on 
a Friday, or on that day of the week on which it had originally 
sailed. 

All practice shows that there is no refuge from a calm at sea, 
except in patience. Columbus was much too experienced a 
navigator, not to feel this truth, and, after using the precaution 
mentioned, he, and the pilots under him, turned their attention 
to the arrangements required to render the future voyage safe 
and certain. The few mathematical instruments known to the 
age, were got up, corrected, and exhibited, with the double 
intention of ascertaining their state, and of making a display 
before the common men, that would heighten their respect for 
their leaders, by adding to their confidence in their skill. The 



268 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

admiral, himself, had already obtained a high reputation as a 
navigator, among his followers, in consequence of his reckon- 
ings having proved so much more accurate than those of the 
pilots, in approaching the Canaries; and as he now exhibited 
the instruments then used as a quadrant, and examined his 
compasses, every movement he made was watched by the sea- 
men, with either secret admiration, or jealous vigilance ; some 
openly expressing their confidence in his ability to proceed 
wherever he wished to go, and others covertly betraying just 
that degree of critical knowledge which ordinarily accompanies 
prejudice, ignorance, and malice. 

Luis had never been able to comprehend the mysteries of 
navigation, his noble head appearing to repudiate learning, as a 
species of accomplishment but little in accordance with its wants 
or its tastes. Still, he was intelligent ; and within the range 
of knowledge that it was usual for laymen of his rank to attain, 
few of his age did themselves more credit in the circles of the 
court. Fortunately, he had the most perfect reliance on the 
means of the admiral ; and being almost totally without personal 
apprehensions, Columbus had not a more submissive or blind 
follower, than the young grandee, under his command. 

Man, with all his boasted philosophy, intelligence, and rea- 
son, exists the dupe of his own imagination and blindness, as 
much as of the artifices and designs of others. Even while he 
fancies himself the most vigilant and cautious, he is as often 
misled by appearances as governed by facts and judgment ; and 
perhaps half of those who were spectators of this calculated care 
in Columbus, believed that they felt, in their renewed confi- 
dence, the assurances of science and logical deductions, when 
in truth their senses were impressed, without, in the slightest 
degree, enlightening their understandings. 

Thus passed the day of the 7th September, the night arriving 
and still finding the little squadron, or fleet, as it was termed in 
the lofty language of the day, floating helplessly between Tene- 
riffe and Gomera. Nor did the ensuing morning bring a 
change, for a burning sun beat, unrelieved by a breath of air, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 269 

on the surface of a sea that was glittering like molten silver. 
When the admiral was certain, however, by having sent men 
aloft to examine the horizon, that the Portuguese were not in 
sight, he felt infinitely relieved, little doubting that his pursuers 
still lay, as inactive as himself, to the westward of Ferro. 

"By the seamen's hopes! Senor Don Christopher," said 
Luis, as he reached the poop, where Columbus had kept an 
untiring watch for hours, he himself having just risen from a 
siesta, " the fiends seem to be leagued against us ! Here are 
we in the third day of our calm, with the Peak of TenerifTe as 
stationary as if it were a mile-stone, set to tell the porpoises and 
dolphins the rate at which they swim. If one believed in omens, 
he might fancy that the saints were unwilling to see us depart, 
even though it be on their own errand.' ' 

" We may not believe in omens, when they are no more 
than the fruits of natural laws," gravely returned the admiral. 
" There will shortly be an end of this calm, for a haze is gath- 
ering in the atmosphere that promises air from the east, and 
the motion of the ship will tell thee, that the winds have been 
busy far to the westward. Master Pilot," addressing the offi- 
cer of that title, who had charge of the deck at the moment, 
" thou wilt do well to unfurl thy canvas, and prepare for a 
favoring breeze, as we shall soon be overtaken by wind from the 
north-east." 

This prediction was verified about an hour later, when all 
three of the vessels began, again, to part the waters with their 
stems. But the breeze, if any thing, proved more tantalizing 
to the impatient mariners than the calm itself had been ; for a 
strong head sea had got up, and the air proving light, the differ- 
ent craft struggled with difficulty toward the west. 

All this time, a most anxious look-out was kept for the 
Portuguese caravels, the appearance of which, however, was 
less dreaded than it had been, as they were now supposed to 
be a considerable distance to leeward. Columbus, and his 
skilful assistants, Martin Alonzo and Vicente Yanez, or the 
brothers Pinzon, who commanded the Pinta and the Nina, 
12 



270 MERCEDES OF C AG TILE. 

practised all the means that their experience could suggest to 
get ahead. Their progress, however, was not only slow but 
painful, as every fresh impulse given by the breeze, served to 
plunge the bows of the vessels into the sea with a violence that 
threatened injuries to the spars and rigging. So trifling, in- 
deed, was their rate of sailing, that it required all the judgment 
of Columbus to note the nearly imperceptible manner in which 
the tall, cone-like summit of the Peak of Teneriffe lowered, as 
it might be, inch by inch. The superstitious feelings of the 
common men being more active than usual, even, some among 
them began to whisper that the elements were admonishing 
them against proceeding, and that tardy as it might seem, the 
admiral would do w T ell to attend to omens and signs that nature 
seldom gave without sufficient reason. These opinions, how- 
ever, were cautiously uttered — the grave, earnest manner of Co- 
lumbus having created so much respect, as to suppress them in 
his presence ; and the mariners of the other vessels still followed 
the movements of their admiral with that species of blind de- 
pendence which marks the submission of the inferior to the 
superior, under such circumstances. 

When Columbus retired to his cabin for the night, Luis ob- 
served that his countenance was unusually grave, as he ended 
his calculations of the days' work. 

" I trust all goes to your wishes, Don Christopher," the 
young man gaily observed. "We are now fairly on our jour- 
ney, and, to my eyes, Cathay is already in sight." 

" Thou hast that within thee, Don Luis," returned the ad- 
miral, " which rendereth what thou wishest to see distinct, and 
maketh all colors gay. With me it is a duty to see things as they 
are, and, although Cathay lieth plainly before the vision of my 
mind — thou, Lord, who hast implanted, for thine own great ends, 
the desire to reach that distant land, only know'st how plainly ! 
— although Cathay is thus plain to my moral view, I am bound 
to heed the physical obstacles that may exist to our reaching it." 

" And are these obstacles getting to be more serious than we 
could hope, Senor V ' 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 27l 

" My trust is still in God — look here, young lord," laying 
his finger on the chart ; " at this point were we in the morn- 
ing, and to this point have we advanced by means of all the 
toil of the day, down to this portion of the night. Thou seest 
that a line of paper marketh the whole of our progress ; and, 
here a<rain, thou seest that we have to cross this vast desert of 
ocean, ere we may even hope to draw near the end of our 
journey. By my calculation, with all our exertions, and at this 
critical moment — critical not only as regardeth the Portuguese, 
but critical as regardeth our own people — we have made but 
nine leagues, which are a small portion of the thousand that 
lie before us. At this rate we may dread a failure of our pro- 
visions and water." 

" I have all confidence in your resources, Don Christopher, 
and in your knowledge and experience." 

" And I have all confidence in the protection of God ; trust- 
ing that he will not desert his servant in the moment that he 
most needeth his support." 

Here Columbus prepared himself to catch a few hours' sleep, 
though it was in his clothes, the interest he felt in the position 
of his vessels forbidding him to undress. This celebrated man 
lived in an age when a spurious philosophy, and a pretending 
but insufficient exercise of reason, placed few, even in appear- 
ance, above the frank admission of their constant reliance on a 
divine power. We say in appearance, as no man, whatever 
may be the extent of his delusions on this subject, really believes 
that he is altogether sufficient for his own protection. This 
absolute self-reliance is forbidden by a law of nature, each carry- 
ing in his own breast a monitor to teach him his real insignifi- 
cance, demonstrating daily, hourly, at each minute even, that 
he is but a diminutive agent used by a superior power in carry- 
ing out its own great and mysterious ends, for the sublime and 
beneficent purposes for which the world and all it contains has 
been created. In compliance with the usage of the times, 
Columbus knelt, and prayed fervently, ere he slept; nor did 
Luis de Bobadilla hesitate about imitating an example that few 



272 MERCEDES Of CASTILE. 

in that clay, thought beneath their intelligence or their manhood. 
If religion had the taint of superstition in the fifteenth century, 
and men confided too much in the efficacy of momentary and 
transient impulses, it is certain that it also possessed an exterior 
of graceful meekness and submission to God, in losing which, 
it may be well questioned if the world has been the gainer. 

The first appearance of light brought the admiral and Luis to 
the deck. They both knelt again on the poop, and repeated 
their paters ; and then, yielding to the feelings natural to their 
situation, they arose, eager to watch for what might be revealed 
by the lifting of the curtain of day. The approach of dawn, 
and the rising of the sun at sea, have been so often described, 
that the repetition here might be superfluous ; but we shall state 
that Luis watched the play of colors that adorned the eastern 
sky, with a lover's refinement of feeling, fancying that he traced 
a resemblance to the passage of emotions across the tell-tale 
countenance of Mercedes, in the soft and transient hues that aro 
known to precede a fine morning in September, more especially 
in a low latitude. As for the admiral, his more practical gaze 
was turned in the direction in which the island of Ferro lay, 
awaiting the increase of the light in order to ascertain what 
changes had been wrought during the hours he had slept. Sev- 
eral minutes passed in profound attention, when the navigator 
beckoned Luis to his side. 

" Seest thou that dark, gloomy pile, which is heaving up out 
of the darkness, here at the south and west of us?" he said — 
" it gaineth form and distinctness at each instant, though dis- 
tant some eight or ten leagues ; that is Ferro, and the Portu- 
guese are there, without question, anxiously expecting our 
appearance. In this calm, neither can approach the other, and 
thus far we are safe. It is now necessary to ascertain if the 
pursuing caravels are between us and the land, or not ; after 
which, should it prove otherwise, we shall be reasonably safe, 
if we approach no nearer to the island, and we can maintain, as 
yesterday, the advantage of the wind. Seest thou any sail, 
Luis, in that quarter of the ocean ?" 



MERJEDES OF CASTILE. 2\ 8 

" None, Senor ; and the light is already of sufficient stiengtL 
to expose the white canvas of a vessel, were any there." 

Columbus made an ejaculation of thankfulness, and imme- 
diately ordered the look-out aloft to examine the entire horizon. 
The report was favorable; the dreaded Portuguese caravels 
being nowhere visible. As the sun arose, however, a breeze 
sprung up at the southward and westward, bringing Ferro, and 
consequently any vessels that might be cruising in that quarter, 
directly to windward of the fleet. Sail was made without the 
loss of a moment ; and the admiral stood to the northward and 
westward, trusting that his pursuers were looking out for him 
on the south side of the island, which was the ground where 
those who did not thoroughly understand his aim, would be 
most likely to expect him. By this time the westerly swell had, 
in a great measure, gone down ; and though the progress of the 
vessels was far from rapid, it was steady, and seemed likely to 
last. The hours went slowly by, and as the day advanced, ob- 
jects became less and less distinct on the sides of Ferro. Its 
entire surface next took the hazy appearance of a dim and ill- 
defined cloud ; and then it began slowly to sink into the water. 
Its summit was still visible, as the admiral, with the more privi- 
leged of his companions, assembled on the poop, to take a sur- 
vey of the ocean and of the weather. The most indifferent 
observer might now have noted the marked difference in the 
state of feeling which existed among the adventurers on board 
the Santa Maria. On the poop, all was cheerfulness and hope, 
the present escape having induced even the distrustful, momen- 
tarily, to forget the uncertain future ; the pilots, as usual, were 
occupied and sustained by a species of marine stoicism ; while a 
melancholy had settled on the crew that was as apparent as if 
they were crowding around the dead. Nearly every man in 
the ship was in some one of the groups that had assembled on 
leek ; and every eye seemed riveted, as it might be by enchant- 
ment, on the fading and falling heights of Ferro. "While things 
were in this state, Columbus approached Luis, and aroused him 
from a sort of trance, by laying a finger lightly on his shoulder 



274 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" It cannot be that the Senor de Munos is affected by the 
feelings of the common men," observed the admiral, with a 
slight mixture of surprise and reproach; "this, too, at a mo- 
ment that all of an intelligence sufficient to foresee the glorious 
consequences, are rejoicing that a heaven-sent breeze is carrying 
us to a safe distance from the pursuing and envious caravels ! 
Why dost thou thus regard the people beneath, with a steady 
eye and unwavering look % Is it that thou repentest embark- 
ing, or dost thou merely muse on the charms of thy mistress V 

u By San Iago ! Don Christopher, this time your sagacity is 
at fault. I neither repent, nor muse as you would imply ; but 
I gaze at yonder poor fellows with pity for their apprehen- 
sions.' ' 

" Ignorance is a hard master, Senor Pedro,' and one that is 
now exercising his power over the imaginations of the seamen 
with the ruthlessness of a tyrant. They dread the worst merely 
because they have not the knowledge to foresee the best. Fear 
is a stronger passion than hope, and is ever the near ally of ig- 
norance. In vulgar eyes that which hath not yet been — nay, 
which hath not, in some measure, become familiar by use — is 
deemed impossible ; men reasoning in a circle that is abridged 
by their information. Those fellows are gazing at the island, as 
it disappears, like men taking a last look at the things of 'life. 
Indeed, this concern exceedeth even what I could have an- 
ticipated." 

" It lieth deep, Senor, and yet it riseth to the eyes ; for I have 
seen tears on cheeks that I could never have supposed wetted 
in any manner but by the spray of the ocean !" 

" There are our two acquaintances, Sancho and Pepe, neither 
of whom seemeth particularly distressed, though the last hath a 
cast of melancholy in his face. As for the first, the knave 
showeth the indifference of a true mariner — one who is never so 
happy as when furthest from the dangers of rocks and shoals : 
to such a man, the disappearance of one island, and the appear- 
ance of another, are alike matters of indifference. He seeth 
but the visible horizon around him, and considereth the rest of 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 275 

the world, temporarily, as a blank. I look for loyal service in 
that Sancho, in despite of his knavery, and count upon him as 
one of the truest of my followers." 

Here the admiral was interrupted by a cry from the deck be- 
neath him, and, looking round, his practised and quick eye was 
not slow in discovering that the horizon to the southward pre- 
sented the usual watery blank of the open ocean. Ferro had, 
in fact, altogether disappeared, some of the most sanguine of 
the seamen having fancied that they beheld it, even after it had 
finally sunk behind the barrier of waves. As the circumstance 
became more and more certain, the lamentations among the 
people grew less and less equivocal and louder, tears flowed 
without shame or concealment, hands were wrung in a sort of a 
senseless despair, and a scene of such clamor ensued, as threat- 
ened some serious danger to the expedition from this new quar- 
ter. Under such circumstances, Columbus had all the people 
collected beneath the break of the poop, and standing on the 
latter, where he could examine every countenance for himself, 
he addressed them on the subject of their grief. On this occa- 
sion the manner of the great navigator was earnest and sincere, 
leaving no doubt that he fully believed in the truth of his own 
arguments, and that he uttered nothing with the hope to delude 
or to mislead. 

"When Don Ferdinand and Dona Isabella, our respected 
and beloved sovereigns, honored me with the commission of 
admiral and viceroy, in those] secret seas toward which we are 
now steering," he said, " I considered it as the most glorious 
and joyful event of my life, as I now consider this moment, 
that seemeth to some among you so painful, as second to it in 
hope and cause for felicitation. In the disappearance of Ferro, 
I see also the disappearance of the Portuguese ; 'for, now that 
we are in the open ocean, without the limits of any known 
land, I trust that Providence hath placed us beyond the reach 
and machinations of all our enemies. Whila we prove true to 
ourselves, and to the great objects that are before us, there is 
no longer cause for fear. If any person among you hath a 



270 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

mind to disburden himself, in this matter, let him speak free- 
ly ; we being much too strong in argument to wish to silence 
doubts by authority." 

" Then, Senor Don Almirante," put in Sancho, whose tongue 
was ever ready to wag, as occasion offered, " it is just that 
which maketh your Excellency so joyful that maketh these 
honest people so sad. Could they always keep the island of 
Ferro in sight, or any other known land, they would follow you 
to Cathay with as gentle a pull as the launch followeth the car- 
avel in a light breeze and smooth water; but it is this leaving 
all behind, as it might be, earth as well as wives and children, 
that saddens their hearts, and uncorks their tears." 

" And thou, Sancho, an old mariner that wast born at 
sea" — 

" Nay, your Excellency, illustrious Senor Don Almirante," 
interrupted Sancho, looking up with pretended simplicity, 
" not exactly at sea, though within the scent of its odor; since, 
having been found at the shipwright's gate, it is not probable 
they would have made a haven just to land so small a part of 
the freight." 

" Well, born near the sea, if thou wilt — but from thee I ex- 
pect better things than unmanly lamentations because an island 
hath sunk below the horizon." 

" Excellency, you may ; it mattereth little to Sancho, if half 
the islands in the sea were sunk a good deal lower. There are 
the Cape de Verdes, now, which I never wish to look upon 
again, and Lampidosa, besides Stromboli and others in that 
quarter, would be better out of the way, than where they are, 
as for any good they do us seamen. But, if your Excellency 
will condescend to tell these honest people whither it is that we 
are bound, and what you expect to find in port, and, more es- 
pecially, when we are to come back, it would comfort them in 
an unspeakable degree." 

" As I hold it to be the proper office of men m authority to 
let their motives be known, when no evil followeth the disclo- 
sure, this will I most cheerfully do, requiring the attention of 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 277 

all near me, and chiefly of those who are most uneasy concern- 
ing our present position and future movements. The end of 
our voyage is Cathay, a country that is known to lie in the 
uttermost eastern extremity of Asia, whither it hath been more 
than once reached by Christian travellers ; and its difference 
from all other voyages, or journeys, that may have been at- 
tempted in order to reach the same country, is in the circum- 
stance that we go west, while former travellers have proceeded 
east. But this is effecting our purposes by means that belong 
only to stout-hearted mariners, since none but those who are 
familiar with the ocean, skilful pilots, and obedient and ready 
seamen, can traverse the waters, without better guides than the 
knowledge of the stars, currents, winds, and other phenomena 
of the Atlantic, and such aids as may be gleaned from science. 
The reason on which I act, is a conviction that the earth is 
round, whence it followeth that the Atlantic, which we know 
to possess an eastern boundary of land, must also have a west- 
ern ; and from certain calculations that leave it almost certain, 
that this continent, which I hold will prove to be India, cannot 
lie more than some twenty-five or thirty days' sailing, if as 
many, from our own Europe. Having thus told when and 
where I expect to find the country We seek, I will now touch a 
little on the advantages that we may all expect to derive from 
the discovery. According to the accounts of a certain Marco 
Polo, and his relatives, gentlemen of Venice, and men of fair 
credit and good reputations, the kingdom of Cathay is not 
only one of the most extensive known, but one that most 
aboundeth in gold and silver, together with the other metals of 
value, and precious stones. Of the advantages of the discovery 
of such a land to yourselves, ye may judge by its advantages 
to me. Their Highnesses have dignified me with the rank of 
admiral and viceroy, in anticipation of our success, and, perse- 
vering to a successful termination of your efforts, the humblest 
man among ye may look with confidence to some signal mark 
of their favor. Rewards will doubtless be rendered in propor- 
tion to your merits ; he that deserveth much, receiving more 



278 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

than he who hath deserved less. Still will there be sufficient 
for all. Marco Polo and his relatives dwelt seventeen years in 
the court of the Great Khan, and were every way qualified to 
give a true account of the riches and resources of those regions ; 
and well were they — simple Venetian gentlemen, without any 
other means than could be transported on the backs of beasts 
of burden — rewarded for their toils and courage. The jewels 
alone, with which they returned, served long to enrich their 
race, renovating a decayed but honorable family, while they 
did their enterprise and veracity credit in the eyes of men. 

" As the ocean, for a long distance this side of the continent 
of Asia and the kingdom of Cathay, is known to abound with 
islands, we may expect first to meet with them, where, it would 
be doing nature herself injustice, did we not anticipate fragrant 
freights of balmy spices, and other valuable commodities with 
which that favored quarter of the earth, it is certain, is enriched. 
Indeed, it is scarce possible for the imagination to conceive of 
the magnitude of the results that await our success, while 
naught but ridicule and contempt could attend a hasty and in- 
considerate return. Going not as invaders, but as Christians 
and friends, we have no reason to expect other than the most 
friendly reception ; and, no doubt, the presents and gifts, alone, 
that will naturally be offered to strangers who have come so far, 
and by a road that hath hitherto been untravelled, will forty-fold 
repay you for all your toils and troubles. 

" I say nothing of the honor of being among those who have 
first carried the cross to the heathen world," continued the ad- 
miral, uncovering himself, and looking around him with solemn 
gravity ; " though our fathers believed it to be no little distinc- 
tion to have been one in the armies that contended for the pos- 
session of the sepulchre. But neither the church, nor its great 
master, forgetteth the servitor that advanceth its interests, and 
we may all look for blessings, both here and hereafter." 

As he concluded, Columbus devoutly crossed himself, and 
w : thdrew from the sight of his people among those who were 
on the poop. The effect of this address was, for the moment, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 2*79 

very salutary, and the men saw the clouds that hung over the 
land disappear, like the land itself, with less feeling than they 
had previously manifested. Nevertheless, they remained dis- 
trustful and sad, some dreaming that night of the pictures that 
Columbus had drawn of the glories of the East, and others 
fancying, in their sleep, that demons were luring them into un- 
known seas, where they were doomed to wander forever, as 
a punishment for their sins ; conscience asserting its power 
in all situations, and most vividly in those of distrust and un- 
certainty. 

Shortly before sunset, the admiral caused the three vessels to 
heave-to, and the two Pinzons to repair on board his own ship. 
Here he laid before these persons his orders and plans for their 
government, in the event of a separation. 

"Thus you will understand me, Senores," he concluded, after 
having explained at length his views: "Your first and gravest 
duty will be to keep near the admiral, in all weather, and under 
every circumstance, so long as it may be possible ; but, failing 
of the possibility, you will make your way due westward, on 
this parallel of latitude, until you have gone seven hundred 
leagues from the Canaries; after which, you are to lie-to at 
night, as, by that time, it is probable you will be among the 
islands of Asia ; and it will be both prudent, and necessary to our 
objects, to be more on the alert for discoveries, from that mo- 
ment. Still, you will proceed westward, relying on seeing me 
at the court of the Great Khan, should Providence deny us an 
earlier meeting." 

" This is well, Senor Almirante," returned Martin Alonzo, 
raising his eyes, which had long been riveted on the chart, " but 
it will be far better for all to keep together, and chiefly so to us, 
who are little used to the habits of princes, if we wait for your 
Excellency's protection before we rush unheedingly into the 
presence of a sovereign as potent as the Grand Khan." 

" Thou showest thy usual prudence, good Martin Alonzo, 
and I much commend thee for it. It were, indeed, better that 
thou shouldst wait my arrival, since that eastern potentate may 



280 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

conceive himself better treated by receiving the first visit from 
the viceroy of the sovereigns, who is the bearer of letters direct- 
ly from his own royal master and mistress, than by receiving it 
from one of inferior rank. Look thou well to the islands and 
their products, Senor Pinzon, shouldst thou first gain those 
seas, and await my appearance, before thou proceedest to 
aught else. How stand thy people affected on taking leave of 
the land?" 

" 111 enough, Senor ; so much so, indeed, as to put me in 
fear of a mutiny. There are those in the Pinta who need to 
stand in wholesome dread of the anger of their Highnesses, to 
prevent their making a sudden and. violent return to Palos." 

" Thou wouldst do well to look sharply to this spirit, that it 
may be kept under. Deal kindly and gently with these disaf- 
fected spirits as long as may be, encouraging them by all fair 
and reasonable promises ; but beware that the distemper get 
not the mastery of thy authority. And now, Seiiores, as the 
night approacheth, take boat and return to your vessels, that 
we may profit by the breeze." 

When Columbus was again alone with Luis, he sat in his 
little cabin, with a hand supporting his head, musing like one 
lost in reflection. 

" Thou hast long known this Martin Alonzo, Don Luis de 
Bobadilla ?" he at length asked, betraying the current of his 
thoughts, by the nature of the question. 

" Long, Senor, as youths count time ; though it would seem 
but a day in the calculations of aged men." 

" Much dependeth on him; I hope he may prove honest; 
as yet he hath shown himself liberal, enterprising, and manly." 

"He is human, Don Christopher, and therefore liable to err. 
Yet as men go, I esteem Martin Alonzo far from being among 
the worst of his race. He hath not embarked in this enter- 
prise under knightly vows, nor with any churchman's zeal ; but 
give him the chance of a fair return for his risks, and you will 
find him as true as interest ever leaveth a man, when there is 
any occasion to try his selfishness." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 281 

" Then tliou, only, will I trust with my secret. Look at this 
paper, Luis. Here thou seest that I have been calculating our 
progress since morning, and I find that we have come full nine- 
teen leagues, though it be not in a direct westerly line. Should 
I let the people know how far we may have truly come, at the 
end of some great distance, there being no land visible, fear 
will get the mastery over them, and no man can foresee the 
consequences. I shall write down publicly, therefore, but fif- 
teen leagues, keeping the true reckoning sacred for thine eye 
and mine. God will forgive me this deception, in consideration 
that it is practised in the interest of his own church. By mak- 
ing these small deductions daily, it will enable us to advance a 
thousand leagues, without awakening alarm sufficient for more 
than seven or eight hundred." 

"This is reducing courage to a scale I little dreamt of, 
Sen or," returned Luis, laughing. " By San Luis, my true 
patron ! we should think ill of the knight who found it neces- 
sary to uphold his heart by a measurement of leagues." 

"All unknown evils are dreaded evils. Distance hath its 
terrors for the ignorant, and it may justly have its terrors for 
the wise, young noble, when it is measured on a trackless 
ocean ; and there ariseth another question touching those great 
staples of life, food and water." 

With this slight reproof of the levity of his young friend, the 
admiral prepared himself for his hammock by kneeling and 
repeating the prayers of the hour. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

"Whither, 'midst falling dew, 

While glow the heavens with the last steps of day, 
Far. through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue 
Thy solitary way ?" 

Bryant. 

The slumbers of Columbus were of short duration. "While 
his sleep lasted it was profound, like that of a man who has so 
much control over his will as to have reduced the animal func- 
tions to its domination, for he awoke regularly at short inter- 
vals, in order that his watchful eye might take a survey of the 
state of the weather, and of the condition of his vessels. On 
this occasion, the admiral was on deck again, a little after one, 
where he found all things seemingly in that quiet and inspiring 
calm that ordinarily marks, in fine weather, a middle watch at 
sea. The men on deck mostly slumbered ; the drowsy pilot, and 
the steersman, with a look-out or two, alone remaining erect and 
awake. The wind had freshened, and the caravel was plough- 
ing her way ahead, with an untiring industry, leaving Ferro and 
its dangers, at each instant, more and more remote. The only 
noises that were audible, were the gentle sighing of the wind 
among the cordage, the wash of the water, and the occasional 
creaking of a yard, as the breeze forced it, with a firmer pres- 
sure, to distend its tackle and to strain its fittings. 

The night was dark, and it required a moment to accustom 
the eye to objects by a light so feeble : when this was done, 
however, the admiral discovered that the ship was not close by 
the wind, as he had ordered that she should be kept. Walking 
to the helm, he perceived that it was so far bcrne up, as to 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 283 

cause her head to fall off toward the north-east, which was, in 
fact, in the direction to Spain. 

"Art thou a seaman, and disregardest thy course, in this 
heedless manner V sternly demanded the admiral ; " or art thou 
only a muleteer, who fancieth he is merely winding his way 
along a path of the mountains. Thy heart is in Spain, and 
thou thinkest that a vain wish to return may meet with some 
relief in this idle artifice !" 

"Alas, Senor Almirante ! your Excellency hath judged 
rightly in believing that my heart is in Spain, where it ought to 
be, moreover, as I have left behind me at Moguer seven mother- 
less children." 

"Dost thou not know, fellow, that I, too, am a father, and 
that the dearest objects of a father's hopes are left behind me, 
also ? In what, then, dost thou differ from me, my son being 
also without a mother's care V 

"Excellency, he hath an admiral for a father, while my 
boys have only a helmsman I" 

"And what will it matter to Don Diego" — Columbus was fond 
of dwelling on the honors he had received from the sovereigns, 
even though it were a little irregularly — " what will it matter 
to Don Diego, my son, that his parent perished an admiral, if 
he perish at all ; and in what will he profit more than your 
children, when he findeth himself altogether without a parent?" 

"Senor, it will profit him to be cherished by the king and 
queen, to be honored as your child, and to be fostered and fed 
as the offspring of a viceroy, instead of being cast aside as the 
issue of a nameless mariner." 

" Friend, thou hast some reason in this, and insomuch I re- 
spect thy feelings," answered Columbus, who, like our own 
Washington, appears to have always submitted to a lofty and 
pure sense of justice ; " but thou wouldst do well to remember 
the influence that thy manly and successful perseverance in this 
voyage may produce on the welfare of thy children, instead of 
thus dwelling on weak forebodings of ills that are little likely to 
come to. pass. Neither of us hath much to expect, should we 



284 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

fail of our discoveries, while both may hope every thing should 
we succeed. Can I trust thee now, to keep the ship on her 
course, or must I send for another mariner to relieve the 
helm?" 

" It may be better, noble admiral, to do the last. I will be- 
think me of thy counsel, and strive with my longings for home ; 
but it would be safer to seek another for this day, while we are 
so near to Spain." 

" Dost thou know one Sancho Mundo, a common seaman cf 
this crew ?" 

*' Sefior, we all know him ; he hath the name of the most 
skilful of our craft, of all in Moguer." 

"Is he of thy watch, or sleepeth he with his fellows of the 
relief below V 

" Senor, he is of our watch ; and sleepeth not with his fellows 
below, for the reason that he sleepeth on deck. No care, or 
danger, can unsettle the confidence of Sancho ! To him the 
sight of land is so far an evil, that I doubt if he rejoice should 
we ever reach those distant countries that your Excellency 
seemeth to expect we may." 

" Go find this Sancho, and bid him come hither ; I will dis- 
charge thy office the while." 

Columbus now took the helm with his own hands, and with 
a light play of the tiller brought the ship immediately up as 
near the wind as she would lie. The effect was felt in more 
quick and sudden plunges into the sea, a deeper heel to lee- 
ward, and a fresh creaking aloft, that denoted a renewed and 
increased strain on all the spars and their tackle. In the course 
of a few minutes, however, Sancho appeared, rubbing his eyes, 
and yawning. 

" Take thou this duty," said the admiral, as soon as the man 
was near him, "and discharge it faithfully. Those who have 
been here already, have proved unfaithful, suffering the vessel 
to fall off, in the direction of Spain ; I expect better things of 
thee. I think, friend Sancho, I may count on thee as a true 
and faithful follower, even in extremity V 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 285 

" Seiior Don Almirante," said Sancho, who took the helm, 
giving it a little play to feel his command of it, as a skilful 
coachman brings his team in subjection on first assuming 
the reins, " I am a servant of the crown's, and your inferior 
and subordinate ; such duty as becometh me, I am ready to 
discharge." 

" Thou hast no fear of this voyage — no childish forebodings 
of becoming an endless wanderer in an unknown sea, without 
hope of ever seeing wife or child again?" 

" Senior, you seem to know our hearts as well as if your Ex- 
cellency had made them with your own hands, and then put 
them into our miserable bodies I" 

" Thou hast, then, none of these unsuitable and unseamanlike 
apprehensions ?" 

" Not as much, Excellency, as would raise an ave in a parish 
priest, or a sigh in an old woman. I may have my misgivings, 
for we all have weaknesses, but none of them incline to any 
dread of sailing about the ocean, since that is my happiness ; 
nor to any concern about wife and children, not having the first, 
and wishing not to think I have the last." 

" If thou hast misgivings, name them. I could wish to make 
one firm as thou, wholly my friend." 

" I doubt not, Senor, that we shall reach Cathay, or what- 
ever country your Excellency may choose to seek ; I make no 
question of your ability to beard the Great Khan, and, at 
need, to strip the very jewels from his turban — as turban he 
must have, being an Infidel ; nor do I feel any misgivings 
about the magnitude and richness of onr discoveries and freights, 
since I believe, Seiior Don Almirante, you are skilful enough 
to take the caravels in at one end of the earth and out at the 
other ; or, even to load them with carbuncles, should diamonds 
be wanting." 

" If thou hast this faith in thy leader, what other distrust 
can give thee concern ?" 

" I distrust the value of the share, whether of honor or of 
jewels, that will fall to the lot of one Sancho Mundo, a poor, 



286 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

unknown, almost shirtless mariner, that hath more need of both 
than hath ever crossed the mind of our gracious lady, Doiia 
Isabella, or of her royal consort." 

" Sancho, thou art a proof that no man is without his failings, 
and I fear thou art mercenary. They say all men have their 
prices ; thou seemest clearly to have thine." 

" Your Excellency hath not been sailing about the world 
for nothing, or you could not tell every man his inclinations so 
easily. I have ever suspected I was mercenary, and so have 
accepted all sorts of presents to keep the feeling down. Noth- 
ing appeases a mercenary longing like gifts and rewards ; and 
as for price, I strive hard to keep mine as high as possible, lest 
it should bring me into discredit for a mean and grovelling 
spirit. Give me a high price, and plenty of gifts, and I can be 
as disinterested as a mendicant friar." 

" I understand thee, Sancho ; thou art to be bought, but not 
to be frightened. In thy opinion a single dobla is too little to 
be divided between thee and thy friend, the Portuguese. I will 
make a league with thee on thine own terms ; here is another 
piece of gold ; see that thou remain est true to me throughout 
the voyage." 

" Count on me, without scruple, Senor Don Almirante, and 
with scruples, too, should they interfere. Your Excellency hath 
not a more disinterested friend in the fleet. I only hope that 
when the share-list shall be written out, the name of Sancho 
Mundo may have an honorable place, as will become his fidelity. 
And now, your Excellency, go sleep in peace ; the Santa Maria 
shall lie as near to the route to Cathay, as this south-westerly 
breeze will suffer." 

Columbus complied, though he rose once or twice more, dur- 
ing the night, to ascertain the state of the weather, and that the 
men did their duties. So long as Sancho remained at the helm, 
he continued faithful to his compact ; but, as he went below 
with his watch, at the usual hour, successors were put in his 
place, who betrayed the original treachery of the other helms- 
man. When Luis left his hammock, Columbus was already at 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 287 

work, ascertaining tlic distance that had been run in the course 
of the night Catching the inquiring glance of the young man, 
the admiral observed, gravely, and not altogether without 
melancholy m his manner — 

M We have had a good run, though it hath been more nor- 
therJy than I could have desired. I find that the vessels are 
thirty leagues further from Ferro than when the sun set, and 
thou seest, here, that I have written four-and-twenty in the 
reckoning, that is intended for the eyes of the people. But 
there hath been great weakness at work this night among the 
steersmen, if not treachery : they have kept the ship away in a 
manner to cause her to run a part of the time in a direction 
nearly parallel to the coast of Europe, so that they have been 
endeavoring to deceive me, on the deck, while I have thought 
it necessary to attempt deceiving them in the cabin. It is pain- 
ful, Don Luis, to find such deceptions resorted to, or such de- 
ceptions necessary, when one is engaged in an enterprise that 
surpasseth all others ever yet attempted by man, and that, too, 
with a view to the glory of God, the advantage of the human 
race, and the especial interests of Spain." 

" The holy churchmen, themselves, Don Christopher, are 
obliged to submit to this evil," answered the careless Luis; 
u and it does not become us laymen to repine at what they en- 
dure. I am told that half the miracles they perform are, in 
truth, miracles of but a very indifferent quality ; the doubts and 
w 7 ant of faith of us hardened sinners rendering such little in- 
ventions necessary for the good of our souls." 

"That there are false-minded and treacherous churchmen, as 
well as false-minded and treacherous laymen, Luis, I little 
doubt," answered the admiral ; " but this cometh of the fall of 
man, and of his evil nature. There are also righteous and true 
miracles, that come of the power of God, and which are intended 
to uphold the faith, and to encourage those who love and honor 
his holy name. I do not esteem any thing that hath yet be- 
fallen us to belong very distinctly to this class ; nor do I ven- 
ture to hope that we are to be favored in this manner by an 



288 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

especial intervention in onr behalf; bnt it exceedeth all the 
machinations of the devils to persuade me that we shall be 
deserted while bent on so glorious a design, or that we are not, 
indirectly and secretly, led, in our voyage, by a spirit and 
knowledge that both come of Divine grace and infinite wisdom." 

"This may be so, Don Christopher, so far as you are con- 
cerned ; though, for myself, I claim no higher a guide than an 
angel. An angel's purity, and, I hope I may add, an angel's 
love, lead me, in my blind path across the ocean !" 

" So it seemeth to thee, Luis ; but thou canst not know that 
a higher power doth not use the Dona Mercedes as an instru- 
ment in this matter. Although no miracle rendereth it appar- 
ent to the vulgar, a spirit is placed in my breast, in conducting 
this enterprise, that I should deem it blasphemy to resist. God 
be praised, my boy, we are at last quit of the Portuguese, and 
are fairly on our road ! At present all our obstacles must arise 
from the elements, or from our own fears. It gladdeneth my 
heart to find that the two Pinzons remain true, and that they 
keep their caravels close to the Santa Maria, like men bent on 
maintaining their faith, and seeing an end of the adventure." 

As Luis was now ready, he and the admiral left the cabin to- 
gether. The sun had risen, and the broad expanse of the ocean 
was glittering with his rays. The wind had freshened, and was 
gradually getting further to the south, so that the vessels headed 
up nearly to their course ; and, there being but little sea, the 
progress of the fleet was, in proportion, considerable. Every 
thing appeared propitious ; and the first burst of grief, on losing 
sight of known land, having subsided, the crews were more 
tranquil, though dread of the future was smothered, like the 
latent fires of a volcano, rather than extinguished. The aspect 
of the sea was favorable, offering nothing to view that was un- 
usual to mariners ; and, as there is always something grateful 
in a lively b^eze, when unaccompanied with danger, the men 
were probably encouraged by a state of things to which they 
were accustomed, and which brought with it cheerfulness and 
hope. In the course of the day and night, the vessels ran a 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 289 

hundred and eighty miles still further into the trackless waste 
of the ocean, without awakening half the apprehensions in the 
bosoms of the mariners that they had experienced on losing 
sight of land. Columbus, however, acting on the cautious prin- 
ciple he had adopted, when he laid before his people the result 
of the twenty-four hours' work, reduced the distance to about 
one hundred and fifty. 

Tuesday, the 10th of September, brought a still more favor- 
able change of wind. This day, for the first time since quitting 
the Canaries, the heads of the vessels were laid fairly to the 
west ; and, with the old world directly behind them, and the 
unknown ocean in their front, the adventurers proceeded on- 
ward with a breeze at south-east. The rate of sailing was about 
five miles in the hour ; compensating for the want of speed, by 
the steadiness of their progress, and by the directness of their 
course. 

The observations that are usually made at sea, when the sun 
is in the zenith, were over, and Columbus had just announced 
to his anxious companions that the vessels were gradually set- 
ting south, owing to the drift of some invisible current, when a 
cry from the mast-head announced the proximity of a whale. 
As the appearance of one of these monsters of the deep breaks 
the monotony of a sea life, every one was instantly on the look- 
out, some leaping into the rigging, and others upon the rails, in 
order to catch a glimpse of his gambols. 

" Dost thou see him, Sancho ?" demanded the admiral of 
Mundo, the latter being near him at the moment. " To me 
the water hath no appearance of any such animals being at 
hand." 

" Your Excellency's eye, Senor Don Almirante, is far truer 
than that of the babbler's aloft. Sure as this is the Atlantic, 
and yonder is the foam of the crests of the waves, there is no 
whale.' ' 

" The flukes ! — the flukes !" shouted a dozen voices at once, 
pointing to a spot where a dark object arose above the froth of 
the sea, showing a pointed summit, with short arms extended 



290 MEBCEDES OF CASTILE. 

on each side. " He playeth with his head beneath the water, 
and the tail uppermost!" 

"Alas! — alas!" exclaimed the practised Sancho, with the 
melancholy of a true seaman, " what these inexperienced and 
hasty brawlers call the fluke of a whale, is naught but the mast 
of «some unhappy ship, that "hath left her bones, with her freight 
and her people, in the depths of the ocean !" 

" Thou art right, Sancho," returned the admiral. " I now 
see that thou meanest : it is truly a spar, and doubtless betok- 
cneth a shipwreck." 

This fact passed swiftly from mouth to mouth, and the sad- 
ness that ever accompanies the evidences of such a disaster, 
settled on the faces of all the beholders. The pilots alone 
showed indifference, and they consulted on the expediency of 
endeavoring to secure the spar, as a resource in time of need ; 
but they abandoned the attempt on acccount of the agitation 
of the water, and of the fairness of the wind, the latter being 
an advantage a true mariner seldom likes to lose. 

" There is a warning to us !" exclaimed one of the disaffected, 
as the Santa Maria sailed past the waving summit of the spar ; 
" God hath sent this sign to warn us not to venture where he 
never intended navigators to go !" 

"Say, rather," put in Sancho, who, having taken the fee, had 
ever since proved a willing advocate, " it is an omen of encour- 
agement sent from heaven. Dost thou not see that the part of the 
mast that is visible resembleth a cross, which holy sign is in- 
tended to lead us on, filled with hopes of success ?" 

"This is true, Sancho," interrupted Columbus. "A cross 
hath been reared for our edification, as it might be, in the midst 
of the ocean, and we are to regard it as a proof that Providence 
is with us, in our attempt to carry its blessings to the aid and 
consolation of the heathen of Asia." 

As the resemblance to the holy symbol was far from fanciful, 
this happy hit of Sancho's was not without its effect. The 
reader will understand the likeness all the better, when he is 
told that the upper end of a mast has much the appearance of a 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 291 

cross, by means of the trussel-trees ; and, as often happens, this 
particular spar was floating nearly perpendicular, owing to some 
heavy object being fast to its heel, leaving the summit raised 
some fifteen or twenty feet above the surface of the sea. In a 
quarter of an hour this last relic of Europe and of civilization 
disappeared in the wake of the vessels, gradually diminishing in 
size and settling toward the water, until its faint outlines van- 
ished in threads, still wearing the well-known shape of the re- 
vered symbol of Christianity. 

After this little incident, the progress of the vessels was unin- 
terrupted by any event worthy of notice for two days and 
nights. All this time the wind was favorable, and the adventu- 
rers proceeded due west, by compass, which was, in fact, how- 
ever, going a little north of the real point — a truth that the 
knowledge of the period had not yet mastered. Between the 
morning of the 10th September, and the evening of the 13th, 
the fleet had passed over near ninety leagues of ocean, holding 
its way in a line but a little deviating from a direct one athwart 
the great waste of water, and having consequently reached a 
point as far, if not further west than the position of the Azores, 
then the most westerly land known to European navigators. 
On the 13th, the currents proved to be adverse, and, having a 
south-easterly set, they had a tendency to cause the ships to 
sheer southwardly, bringing them, each hour, nearer to the 
northern margin of the trades. 

The admiral and Luis were at their customary post, on the 
evening of the 13th — the day last mentioned — as Sancho left 
the helm, his tour of duty having just ended. Instead of going 
forward, as usual, among the people, the fellow hesitated, sur- 
veyed the poop with a longing eye, and, finding it occupied 
only by the admiral and his constant companion, he ascended 
the ladder, as if desirous of making some communication. 

"Wouldst thou aught with me, Sancho?" demanded the 
admiral, waiting for the man to make certain that no one 
else was on the narrow deck. " Speak freely : thou hast my 
confidence." 



292 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Senor Don Alinirante, your Excellency well knoweth that 
I ana no fresh-water fish, to be frightened at the sight of a shark 
or a whale, or one that is terrified because a ship headeth west, 
instead of east ; and yet I do come to say that this voyage is 
not altogether without certain signs and marvels, that it may 
be well for a mariner to respect, as unusual, if not ominous." 

" As thou sayest, Sancho, thou art no driveller to be terrified 
by the flight of a bird, or at the presage of a drifting spar, and 
thou awakenest my curiosity to know more. The Senor de 
Munos is my confidential secretary, and nothing need be hid 
from him. Speak freely, then, and without further delay. If 
gold is thy aim, be certain thou shalt have it." 

" No, Senor, my news is not worth a maravedi, or it is far 
beyond the price of gold ; such as it is, your Excellency can 
take it, and think no more # of my reward. You know, Senior, 
that we old mariners will have our thoughts as we stand at the 
helm, sometimes fancying the smiles and' good looks of some 
hussy ashore, sometimes remembering the flavor of rich fruits 
and well-savored mutton ; and then, again, for a wonder, be- 
thinking us of our sins." 

" Fellow, all this I well know ; but it is not matter for an 
admiral's ear." 

" I know not that, Senor; I have known admirals who have 
relished mutton after a long cruise ; ay, and who have bethought 
them, too, of smiling faces and bright eyes, and who, if they 
did not, at times, bethink them of their sins, have done what 
was much worse, help to add to the great account that was 
heaping up against them. Now, there was" — 

" Let me toss this vagabond into the sea, at once, Don 
Christopher," interrupted the impatient Luis, making a forward 
movement as if to execute the threat, an act which the hand of 
Columbus arrested; "we shall never hear a tale the right end 
first, as long as he remaineth in the ship." 

" I thank you, my young Lord of Llera," answered Sancho, 
with an ironical smile; " if you are as ready at drowning sea- 
men, as you are at unhorsing Christian knights in the tourney, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 293 

and Infidels in the fray, I would rather that another should be 
master of- my baths.'' 

** Thou know'st me, knave ? Thou hast seen me on some 
earlier voyage." 

" A cat may look at a king, Seiior Conde ; and why not a 
manner on his passenger ? But spare your threats, and your 
secret is in safe hands. If we reach Cathay, no one will be 
ashamed of having made the voyage ; and if we miss it, it is 
little likely that any will go back to relate the precise manner 
in which your Excellency was drowned, or starved to death, or 
in what other manner you became a saint in Abraham's bosom." 

" Enough of this !" said Columbus, sternly ; " relate what 
thou hast to say, and see that thou art discreet touching this 
young noble." 

" Senor, your word is law. Well, Don Christopher, it is 
one of the tricks of us mariners, at night, to be watching an old 
and constant friend, the north star; and while thus occupied 
an hour since, I noted that this faithful guide and the compass 
by which I was steering, told different tales." 

"Art certain of this?" demanded the admiral, with a quick- 
ness and emphasis that betrayed the interest he felt in the 
communication. 

u As certain, Senor, as fifty years' looking at the star, and 
forty years' watching of the compass can make a man. But 
there is no occasion, your Excellency, to depend on my igno- 
rance, since the star is still where God placed it ; and there is 
your private compass at your elbow — one may be compared 
with the other." 

Columbus had already bethought him of making this com- 
parison ; and by the time Sancho ceased speaking, he and Luis 
were examining the instrument with eager curiosity. The first, 
and the most natural, impression, was a belief that the needle 
of the instrument below was defective, or, at least, influenced 
by some foreign cause ; but an attentive observation soon con- 
vinced the navigator that the remark of Sancho was true. He 
was both astonished and concerned to find that the habitual 
X3 



291 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

care, and professional eye of the fellow had been active, and 
quick to note a change as unusual as this. It was, indeed, so 
common with mariners to compare their compasses with the 
north star — a luminary that was supposed never to vary its posi- 
tion in the heavens, as that position related to man — that no 
experienced seaman, who happened to be at the helm at night- 
fall, could well overlook the phenomenon. 

After repeated observations with his own compasses, of which 
he kept two — one on the poop, and another in the cabin ; and 
having recourse also to the two instruments in the binnacle, 
Columbus was compelled to admit to himself that all four varied, 
alike, from their usual direction, nearly six degrees. Instead 
of pointing due north, or, at least, in a direct line toward a 
point on the horizon immediately beneath the star, they pointed 
some five or six degrees to the westward of it. This was both 
a novel and an astounding departure from the laws of nature, 
as they were then understood, and threatened to render the 
desired results of the voyage so much the more difficult of 
attainment, as it at once deprived the adventurers of a sure 
reliance on the mariner's principal guide, and would render it 
difficult to sail, with any feeling of certainty as to the course, 
in cloudy weather, or dark nights. The first thought of the 
admiral, on this occasion, however, was to prevent the effect 
which such a discovery would be likely to produce on men 
already disposed to anticipate the worst. 

" Thou wilt say nothing of this, Sancho V he observed to the 
man. " Here is another dobla to add to thy store." 

" Excellency, pardon a humble seaman's disobedience, if my 
hand refuse to open to your gift. This matter toucheth of 
supernatural means ; and, as the devil may have an agency in 
the miracle, in order to prevent our converting them heathen, 
of whom you so often speak, I prefer to keep my soul as pure 
as may be, in the matter, since no one knoweth what weapons 
we may be driven to use, should we come to real blows with the 
Father of Sin." 

" Thou w T ilt, at least, prove discreet?" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 295 

" Trust me for that, Senor Don Almirante ; not a word shall 
pass my lips about this matter, until I have your Excellency's 
permission to speak." 

Columbus dismissed the man, and then he turned toward 
Luis, who had been a silent but attentive listener to what had 
passed. 

" You seem disturbed at this departure from the usual laws 
of the compass, Don Christopher," observed the young man, 
gaily. " To me it would seem better to rely altogether on 
Providence, which would scarcely lead us out here, into the 
wide Atlantic, on its own errand, and desert us when we most 
need its aid." 

" God implants in the bosom of his servants a desire to ad- 
vance his ends, but human agents are compelled to employ 
natural means, and, in order to use such means advantageously, 
it is necessary to understand them. I look upon this phenom- 
enon as a proof that our voyage is to result in discoveries of 
unknown magnitude, among which, perhaps, are to be num- 
bered some clue to the mysteries of the needle. The mineral 
riches of Spain differ, in certain particulars, from the mineral 
riches of France ; for, though some things are common to all 
lands, others are peculiar to particular countries. We may find 
regions where the loadstone abounds, or may, even now, be in 
the neighborhood of some island that hath an influence on our 
compasses that we cannot explain." 

" Is it known that islands have ever produced this effect on 
the needle?" 

" It is not — nor do I deem such a circumstance very prob- 
able, though all things are possible. We will wait patiently 
for further proofs that this phenomenon is real and permanent, 
ere we reason further on a matter that is so difficult to be 
understood." 

The subject was now dropped, though the unusual incident 
gave the great navigator an uneasy and thoughtful night. He 
slept little, and often was his eye fastened on the compass that 
was suspended in his cabin as a <[ tell-tale," for so seamen 



296 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

term the instrument by which the officer overlooks the course 
that is steered by the helmsman, even when the latter least sus- 
pects his supervision. Columbus arose sufficiently early to get 
a view of the star before its brightness was dimmed by the re- 
turn of light, and made another deliberate comparison of the 
position of this familiar heavenly body with the direction of 
the needles. The examination proved a slight increase of the 
variation, and tended to corroborate the observations of the 
previous night. The result of the reckoning showed that the 
vessels had run nearly a hundred miles in the course of the last 
twenty-four hours, and Columbus now believed himself to be 
about six times that distance west of Ferro, though even the 
pilots fancied themselves by no means as far. 

As Sancho kept his secret, and no other eye among the 
helmsmen was as vigilant, the important circumstance, as yet, 
escaped general attention. It was only at night, indeed, that 
the variation could be observed by means of the polar star, and 
it was yet so slight that no one but a very experienced and quick- 
eyed mariner w^ould be apt to note it. The whole of the day 
and night of the 14th consequently passed without the crew's 
taking the alarm, and this so much the more as the wind had 
fallen, and the vessels were only some sixty miles further west 
than when they commenced. Still, Columbus noted the differ- 
ence, slight as was the change, ascertaining, with the precision 
of an experienced and able navigator, that the needle was grad- 
ually varying more and more to the westward, though it was by 
steps that were nearly imperceptible. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 297 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

" On thy unaltering blaze 
The half- wrecked mariner, his compass lost, 

Fixes his steady gaze, 
And steers, undoubting, to the friendly coast ; 
And they who stray in perilous wastes, by night, 
Are glad when thou dost shine to guide their footsteps right." 

Hymn to the North Star. 

The following day was Saturday, the 15th, when the little 
fleet was ten days from Gomera ; or it was the sixth morning 
since the adventurers had lost sight of the land. The last week 
had been one of melancholy forebodings, though habit was be- 
ginning to assert its influence, and the men manifested openly 
less uneasiness than they had done in the three or four previous 
days. Their apprehensions were getting to be dormant for want 
of any exciting and apparent stimulus, though they existed as 
latent impulses, in readiness to be roused at the occurrence of 
any untoward event. The wind continued fair, though light — 
the whole twenty-four hours' work showing considerably less 
than a hundred miles, as the true progress west. All this time 
Columbus kept his attention fastened on the needles, and he 
perceived that as the vessels slowly made their westing, the 
magnets pointed more and more, though by scarcely palpable 
changes, in the same direction. 

The admiral and Luis, by this time, had fallen into such hab- 
its- of close communication, that they usually rose and slept at 
the same time. Though far too ignorant of the hazards he ran 
to feel uneasiness, and constitutionally, as well as morally, supe- 
rior to idle alarms, the young man had got to feel a sort of 
sportsman's excitement in the result ; and, by this time, had not 



298 MERCEDES OF CASTILE 

Mercedes existed, he would have been as reluctant to return 
without seeing Cathay, as Columbus himself. They conversed 
together of their progress and their hopes, without ceasing, and 
Luis took so much interest in his situation as to begin to learn 
how to discriminate in matters that might be supposed to affect 
its duration and ends. 

On the night of the . Saturday just mentioned, Columbus 
and his reputed secretary were alone on the poop, convers- 
ing, as usual, on the signs of the times, and of the events of 
the day. 

" The Nina had something to say to you, last evening, Don 
Christopher," observed the young man; "I was occupied in 
the cabin, with my journal, and had no opportunity of knowing 
what passed." 

"Her people had seen a bird or two, that are thought never 
to go far from the land. It is possible that islands are at no 
great distance, for man hath nowhere passed over any very great 
extent of sea without meeting with them. "We cannot, how- 
ever, waste the time necessary for a search, since the glory and 
profit of ascertaining the situation of a group of islands would 
be but a poor compensation for the loss of a continent." 

" Do you still remark those unaccountable changes in the 
needles, Seiior?" 

" In this respect there is no change, except that which goeth 
to corroborate the phenomenon. My chief apprehension is 
of the effect on the people, when the circumstance shall be 
known." 

" Are there no means to persuade them that the needle 
pointeth thus west, as a sign Providence willeth they should 
pursue that course, by persevering in the voyage ?" 

" This might do, Luis," answered the admiral, smiling, "had 
not fear so sharpened their wits, that their first question would 
be an inquiry why Providence should deprive us of the means 
of knowing whither we are travelling, when it so much wisheth 
us to go in any particular direction." 

A cry from the watch on deck arrested the discourse, while 



M E 11 C E D E S OF CASTILE. 299 

a sudden brightness broke on the night, illuminating the vessels 
and the ocean, as if a thousand lamps were shedding their bril- 
liancy upon the surrounding portion of the sphere. A ball of 
fire was glancing athwart the heavens, and seemed to fall into 
the sea, at the distance of a few leagues, or at the limits of the 
visible horizon. Its disappearance was followed by a gloom as 
profound as the extraordinary and fleeting light had been bril- 
liant. This was only the passage of a meteor ; but it was such 
a meteor as men do not see more than once in their lives — if it 
is seen as often ; and the superstitious mariners did not fail to 
note the incident among the extraordinary omens that accompa- 
nied the voyage ; some auguring good, and others evil, from the 
event. 

"By St. Iago I" exclaimed Luis, as soon as the light had 
vanished, " Senor Don Christopher, this voyage of ours doth 
not seem fated to pass away unheeded by the elements and 
other notable powers ! Whether these portents speak in our 
favor, or not, they speak us any thing but men engaged in an 
every-day occupation.' 7 

" Thus it is with the human mind !" returned Columbus. 
" Let but its owner pass beyond the limits of his ordinary 
habits and duties, and he sees marvels in the most simple 
changes of the weather — in a flash of lightning — a blast of air 
— or the passage of a meteor ; little heeding that these miracles 
exist in his own consciousness, and have no connection with 
the every-day laws of nature. These sights are by no means 
uncommon, especially in low latitudes ; and they augur neither 
for nor against our enterprise." 

" Except, Senor Almirante, as they may beset the spirits and 
haunt the imaginations of the men. Sancho telleth me, that a 
brooding discontent is growing among them ; and that, while 
they seem so tranquil, their disrelish of the voyage is hourly 
getting to be more and more decided.' ' 

Notwithstanding this opinion of the admiral, and some pains 
that he afterward took to explain the phenomenon to the peo- 
ple on deck, the passage of the meteor had, indeed, not only 



300 MERCEDES OF CASTILE.. 

produced a deep impression on them, bnt its history went from 
watch to watch, and was the subject of earnest discourse 
throughout the night. But the incident produced no open 
manifestation of discontent ; a few deeming it a propitious omen, 
though most secretly considered it an admonition from heaven 
against any impious attempts to pry into those mysteries of 
nature that, according to their notions, God, in his providence, 
had not seen fit to reveal to man. 

All this time the vessels were making a steady progress to- 
ward the west. The wind had often varied, both in force and 
direction, but never in a manner to compel the ships to shorten 
sail, or to deviate from what the admiral believed to be the 
proper course. They supposed themselves to be steering due 
west, but, owing to the variation, were in fact now holding a 
west-and-by-south course, and were gradually getting nearer to 
the trades ; a movement in which they had also been materially 
aided by the force of the currents. In the course of the 15th 
and 16th of the month, the fleet had got about two hundred 
miles further from Europe, Columbus taking the usual precau- 
tion to lessen the distance in the public reckoning. The latter 
day was a Sunday ; and the religious offices, which were then 
seldom neglected in a Christian ship, produced a deep and sub- 
lime effect on the feelings of the adventurers. Hitherto the 
weather had partaken of the usual character of the season, and 
a few clouds, with a slight drizzling rain, had relieved the heat; 
but these soon passed away, and were succeeded by a soft 
south-east wind, that seemed to come charged with the frag- 
rance of the land. The men united in the evening chants, 
under these propitious circumstances ; the vessels drawing near 
each other, as if it might be to form one temple in honor of 
God, amid the vast solitudes of an ocean that had seldom, if 
ever, been whitened by a sail. Cheerfulness and hope suc- 
ceeded to this act of devotion, and both were speedily height- 
ened by a cry from the look-out aloft, who pointed ahead and 
to leeward, as if he beheld some object of peculiar interest in 
that quarter. The helms were varied a little ; and in a few 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 301 

minutes the vessels entered into a field of sea-weed, that covered 
the ocean for miles. This sign of the vicinity of land was re- 
ceived by the mariners with a shout ; and the very beings who 
had so shortly before been balancing on the verge of despair, 
now became elate with joy. 

These weeds were indeed of a character to awaken hope in 
the bosom of the most experienced mariner. Although some 
had lost their freshness, a great proportion of them were still 
green, and had the appearance of having been quite recently 
separated from their parent rocks, or the earth that had nour- 
ished them. No doubt was now entertained, even by the pilots, 
of the vicinity of land. Tunny-fish were also seen in numbers, 
and the people of the Nina were sufficiently fortunate to strike 
one. The seamen embraced each other, with tears in their 
eyes, and many a hand was squeezed in friendly congratulation, 
that the previous day would have been withheld in surly 
misanthropy. 

" And do you partake of all this hope, Don Christopher ?" de- 
manded Luis ; " are we really to expect the Indies as a conse- 
quence of these marine plants, or is the expectation idle ?*' 

" The people deceive themselves in supposing our voyage 
near an end. Cathay must yet be very distant from us. We 
have come but three hundred and sixty leagues since losing 
sight of Ferro, which, according to my computations, cannot be 
much more than a third of our journey. Aristotle mentioned 
that certain vessels of Cadiz were forced westward by heavy 
gales, until they reached a sea covered with weeds, a spot where 
the tunny- fish abounded. This is the fish, thou must know, 
Luis, that the ancients fancied could see better with the right 
eye than with the left, because it hath been noted that, in pass- 
ing the Bosphorus, they ever take the right shore in proceeding 
toward the Euxine, and the left in returning" — 

" By St. Francis! there can be no wonder if creatures so 
one sided in their vision, should have strayed thus far from 
home," interrupted the light-hearted Luis, laughing. "Doth 
Aristotle, or the other ancients, tell us how they regarded 



•302 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

beauty ; or whether their notions of justice were like those of 
the magistrate who hath been fed by both parties ?" 

" Aristotle speaketh only of the presence of the fish in tho 
weedy ocean, as we see them before us. The mariners of Cadiz 
fancied themselves in the neighborhood of sunken islands, and, 
the wind permitting, made the best of their way back to their 
own shores. This place, in my judgment, we have now reach- 
ed ; but I expect to meet with no land, unless, indeed, we may 
happen to fall in with some island that lieth off here in the 
ocean, as a sort of beacon between the shore of Europe and 
that of Asia. Doubtless land is not distant, whence these 
weeds have drifted, but I attach little importance to its sight, or 
discovery. Cathay is my aim, Don Luis, and I am a searcher 
for continents, not islands." 

It is now known that while Columbus was right in his expec- 
tations of not finding a continent so early, he was mistaken in 
supposing land to lie any where in that vicinity. Whether 
these w T eeds are collected by the course of the currents, or 
whether they rise from the bottom, torn from their beds by the 
action of the water, is not yet absolutely ascertained, though 
the latter is the most common opinion, extensive shoals exist- 
ing in this quarter of the ocean. Under the latter supposition, 
the mariners of Cadiz were nearer the truth than is first appar- 
ent, a sunken island having all the characteristics of a shoal, 
but those which may be supposed to be connected with the 
mode of formation. 

No land was seen. The vessels continued their progress at a 
rate but little varying from five miles the hour, shoving aside 
the weeds, which at times accumulated in masses, under their 
bows, but which could offer no serious obstacle to their prog- 
ress. As for the admiral, so lofty were his views, so steady his 
opinions concerning the great geographical problem he was 
about to solve, and so determined his resolution to persevere to 
the end, that he rather hoped to miss than to fall in with the 
islands, that he fancied could be at no great distance. The 
day and night carried the vessels rather more than one hundred 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 303 

aiijos to the westward, placing the fleet not far from midway 
between the meridians that bounded the extreme western and 
eastern margins of the two continents, though still much nearer 
to Africa than to America, following the parallel of latitude on 
which it was sailing. As the wind continued steady, and the 
sea was as smooth as a river, the three vessels kept close to- 
gether, the Pinta, the swiftest craft, reducing her canvas for 
that purpose. During the afternoon's watch of the day that 
succeeded that of the meeting with the weeds, which was Mon- 
day, the 17th September, or the eighth day after losing sight 
of Ferro, Martin Alonzo Pinzon hailed the Santa Maria, and 
acquainted the pilot on deck of his intention to get the ampli- 
tude of the sun, as soon as the luminary should be low enough, 
with a view to ascertain how far his needles retained their 
virtue. This observation, one of no unusual occurrence among 
mariners, it was thought had better be made in all the caravels 
simultaneously, that any error of one might be corrected by the 
greater accuracy of the rest. 

Columbus and Luis were in a profound sleep in their cots, 
taking their siestas, when the former was awakened by such a 
shake of the shoulder as seamen are wont to give, and are con- 
tent to receive. It never required more than a minute to arouse 
the great navigator from his deepest slumbers to the fullest pos- 
session of his faculties, and he was awake in an instant. 

" Senor Don Almirante," said Sancho, who was the intruder, 
"it is time to be stirring: all the pilots are on deck in readi- 
ness to measure the amplitude of the sun, as soon as the heav- 
enly bodies are in their right places. The west is already be- 
ginning to look like a dying dolphin, and ere many minutes it 
will be gilded like the helmet of a Moorish Sultan." 

" An amplitude measured !" exclaimed Columbus, quitting 
his cot on the instant. " This is news, indeed ! Now we may 
look for such a stir among the people, as hath not been witness* 
ed since we left Cadiz !" 

" So it hath appeared to me, your Excellency, for the mari- 
ner hath some such faith in the needle as the churchman be- 



304 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

stoweth on the goodness of the Son of God. The people are in 
a happy humor at this moment, but the saints only know what 
is to come !" 

The admiral awoke Luis, and in five minutes both were at 
their customary station on the poop. Columbus had gained so 
high a reputation for skill in navigation, his judgment invaria- 
bly proving right, even when opposed to those of all the pilots 
in the fleet, that the latter were not sorry to perceive he had 
no intention to take an instrument in hand, but seemed disposed 
to leave the issue to their own skill and practice. The sun 
slowly settled, the proper time was watched, and then these 
rude mariners set about their task, in the mode that was prac- 
tised in their time. Martin Alonzo Pinzon, the most ready and 
best taught of them all, was soonest through with his task. 
From his lofty stand, the admiral could overlook the deck of 
the Pinta, which vessel was sailing but a few hundred yards 
from the Santa Maria, and it was not long before he observed 
her commander moving from one compass to another, in the 
manner of a man who was disturbed. Another minute or two 
elapsed, when the skiff of the caravel was launched ; a sign was 
made for the admiral's vessel to shorten sail, and Martin Alonzo 
was soon forcing his way through the weeds that still covered 
the surface of the ocean, toward the Santa Maria. As he gained 
the deck of the latter ship, on one of her sides, his kinsman, 
Vicente Yanez, the commander of the Nina, did the same thing 
on the other. In the next instant both were at the side of the 
great navigator, on the poop, whither they had been followed 
by Sancho Ruiz and Bartolemeo Roldan, the two pilots of the 
admiral. 

"What meaneth this haste, good Martin Alonzo?" calmly 
asked Columbus: " thou and thy brother, Vicente Yanez, and 
these honest pilots, hurry toward me as if ye had cheering 
tidings from Cathay." 

" God only knoweth, Senor Almirante, if any of us are ever 
to be permitted to see that distant land, or any shore that is 
only to be reached by mariners through the aid of a needle," 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 305 

answered the elder Pinzon, with a haste that almost rendered 
him breathless. " Here have we all been at the comparison of 
the instruments, and we find them, without a single excep- 
tion, varying from the true north, by, at least, a full point I" 

" That would be a marvel, truly! Ye have made some over- 
sight in your observations, or have been heedless in the estimates. 11 

" Not so, noble admiral," put in Vicente Yaiiez, to sustain 
his brother. "Even the magnets are becoming false to us; and 
as I mentioned the circumstance to the oldest steersman of my 
craft, he assures me that the north star did not tally with his 
instrument throughout the night I" 

" Others say the same, here," added Ruiz — "nay, some are 
ready to swear that the wonder hath been noted ever since we 
entered the sea of weeds !" 

"This may be so, Senores," answered Columbus, with an un- 
disturbed mien, "and yet no evil follow. We all know that 
the heavenly bodies have their revolutions, some of which no 
doubt are irregular, while others are more in conformity with 
certain settled rules. Thus it is with the sun himself, which 
passeth once around the earth in the short space of twenty-four 
hours, while no doubt he hath other, and more subtile move- 
ments, that are unknown to us, on account of the exceeding dis- 
tance at which he is placed in the heavens. Many astronomers 
have thought that they have been able to detect these varia- 
tions, spots having been seen on the disc of the orb at times, 
which have disappeared, as if hid behind the body of the lumi- 
nary. I think it will be found that the north star hath made 
some slight deviation in its position, and that it will continue 
thus to move for some short period, after which, no doubt, it 
will be found returning to its customary position, when it will 
be seen that its temporary eccentricity hath in no manner dis- 
turbed its usual harmony with the needles. Note the star well 
throughout the night, and in the morning let the amplitude be 
again taken, when I think the truth of my conjecture will be 
proved by the regularity of the movement of the heavenly body. 
So far from being discouraged by this sign, we ought rather to 



306 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

rejoice that we have made a discovery, which, of itself, will en- 
title the expedition to the credit of having added materially to 
the stores of science !" 

The pilots were fain to he satisfied with this solution of their 
doubts, in the absence of any other means of accounting for 
them. They remained long on the poop discoursing of the 
strange occurrence ; and as men, even in their blindest moods, 
usually reason themselves into either tranquillity or apprehen- 
sion, they fortunately succeeded in doing the first on this occa- 
sion. With the men there was more difficulty, for when it 
became known to the crews of the three vessels that the needles 
had begun to deviate from their usual direction, a feeling akin 
to despair seized on them, almost without exception. Here 
Sancho was of material service. When the panic was at its 
height, and the people were on the point of presenting them- 
selves to the admiral, with a demand that the heads of the 
caravels should be immediately turned toward the north-east, 
he interposed with his knowledge and influence to calm the 
tumult. The first means this trusty follower had recourse to, 
in order to bring his shipmates back to reason, was to swear, 
without reservation, that he had frequently known the needle 
and the north star to vary, having witnessed the fact with his 
own eyes on twenty previous occasions, and no harm to come 
of it. He invited the elder and more experienced seamen to 
make an accurate observation of the difference which already 
existed, which was quite a point of the compass, and then to 
see, in the morning, if this difference had not increased in the 
same direction. 

" This," he continued, " will be a certain sign, my friends, 
that the star is in motion, since we can all see that the com- 
passes are just where they have been ever since we left Palos de 
Moguer. When one of two things is in motion, and it is cer- 
tain which stands still, there can be no great difficulty in say- 
ing which is the uneasy one. Now, look thou here, Martin 
Martinez," who was one of the most factious of the disaffected ; 
u words are of little use when men can prove their meaning by 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



30* 



experiments like this. Thou seest two balls of spun-yarn on 
this windlass ; well, it is wanted to be known which of them 
remains there, and which is taken away. I remove the smallest 
ball, thou perceivest, and the largest remains ; from which it 
followeth, as only one can remain, and that one is the larger 
ball, why the smaller must be taken away. I hold no man fit 
to steer a caravel, by needle or by star, who will deny a thing 
that is proven as plainly and as simply as this !" 

Martin Martinez, though a singularly disaffected man, was no 
logician; and, Sancho's oaths backing his demonstrations to 
the letter, his party soon became the most numerous. As there 
is nothing so encouraging to the dull-minded and discontented 
mutineer, as to perceive that he is of the strongest side, so is 
there nothing so discouraging as to find himself in the minority ; 
and Sancho so far prevailed as to bring most of his fellows 
round to a belief in the expediency of waiting to ascertain the 
state of things in the morning, before they committed them- 
selves by any act of rashness. 

" Thou hast done well, Sancho," said Columbus, an hour 
later, when the mariner came secretly to make his nightly re- 
port of the state of feeling among the people. " Thou hast 
done well in all but these oaths, taken to prove that thou hast 
witnessed this phenomenon before. Much as I have navigated 
the earth, and careful as have been my observations, and ample 
as have been my means, never before have I known the needle 
to vary from its direction toward the north star : and I think 
that which hath escaped my notice would not be apt to attract 
thine.' ' 

" You do me injustice, Senor Don Almirante, and have 
.nflicted a wound touching my honesty, that a dobla only can 
°,ure* ? — 

"Thou knowest, Sancho, that no one felt more alarm when 
the deviation of the needle was first noted, than thyself. So 
great, in sooth, was thy apprehension, that thou even refused to 
receive gold, a weakness of which thou art usually exceeding- 
ly innocent." 



V>OH MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Wlien the deviation was first noted, your Excellency, tins 
was true enough ; for, not to attempt to mislead one who hath 
more penetration than befalleth ordinary men, I did fancy that 
our hopes of ever seeing Spain or St. Clara de Moguer again, 
were so trifling as to make it of no great consequence who was 
admiral, and who a simple helmsman." 

" And yet thou wouldst now brazen it out, and deny thy 
terror ! Didst thou not swear to thy fellows, that thou hadst 
often seen this deviation before ; ay, even on as many as twenty 
occasions ?" 

" Well, Excellency, this is a proof that a cavalier may make 
a very capital viceroy and admiral, and know all about Cathay, 
without having the clearest notions of history ! I told my 
shipmates, Don Christopher, that I had noted these changes 
before this night, and if tied to the stake to be burnt as a 
martyr, as I sometimes think will one day be the fate of all of 
us superfluously honest men, I would call on yourself, Senor 
Almirante, as the witness of the truth of what I had sworn to." 

" Thou wouldst, then, summon a most unfortunate witness, 
Sancho, since I neither practise false oaths myself, nor encourage 
their use in others." 

"Don Luis de Bobadilla y Pedro de Muiios, here, would 
then be my reliance," said the imperturbable Sancho; " for 
proof a man hath a right to, when wrongfully accused, and 
proof I will have. Your Excellency will please to remember 
that it was on the night of Saturday, the 15th, that I first noti- 
fied your worship of this very change, and that we are now at 
the night of Monday, the 17th. I swore to twenty times noting 
this phenomenon, as it is called, in those eight-and-forty hours, 
when it would have been nearer the truth had I said two hun- 
dred times. Santa Maria ! I did nothing but note it for the 
first few hours !" 

" Go to, Sancho ; thy conscience hath its latitude as well as 
its longitude ; but thou hast thy uses. Now, that thou under- 
standest the reason of the variation, however, thou wilt en- 
courage thy fellows, as well as keep up thy spirits." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 309 

" I make no question that it is all as your Excellency sayeth 
about the star's travelling," returned Sancho ; " and it hath 
crossed my mind that it is possible we are nearer Cathay than 
we have thought ; this movement being made by some evil- 
disposed spirits on purpose to make us lose the way." 

" Go to thy hammock, knave, and bethink thee of thy sins ; 
leaving the reasons of these mvsteries to those who are better 
taught. There is thy dobla, and see that thou art discreet." 

In the morning every being in the three caravels waited im- 
patiently for the results of the new observations. As the wind 
continued favorable, though far from fresh, and a current was 
found setting to the westward, the vessels had made, in the 
course of twenty-four hours, more than a hundred and fifty miles, 
which rendered the increase in the variation perceptible, thus 
corroborating a prophecy of Columbus, that had been ventured 
on previous observation. So easily are the ignorant the dupes 
of the plausible, that this solution temporarily satisfied ail 
doubts, anol it was generally believed that the star had moved, 
while the needle remained true. 

How far Columbus was misled by his own logic in this affair, 
is still a matter of doubt. That he resorted to deceptions 
which might be considered innocent, in order to keep up the 
courage of his companions, is seen in the fact of the false, or 
public reckoning ; but there is no proof that this was one of the 
instances in which he had recourse to such means. No person 
of any science believed, even when the variation of the compass 
was unknown, that the needle pointed necessarily to the polar 
star : the coincidence in the direction of the magnetic needle 
and the position of the heavenly body, being thought acciden- 
tal; and there is nothing extravagant in supposing that the 
admiral — who had the instrument in his possession, and was 
able to ascertain that none of its virtue was visibly lost, while ho 
could only reason from supposed analogy concerning the evolu- 
tions of the star — should imagine that a friend he had ever 
found so faithful, had now deserted him, leaving him disposed 
to throw the whole mystery of the phenomenon on the moro 



010 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

distant dwellers in space. Two opinions have been ventured 
concerning the belief of the celebrated navigator, in the theory 
he advanced on this occasion ; the one affirming, and the other 
denying his good faith in urging the doctrine he had laid 
down. Those who assert the latter, however, would seem to 
reason a little loosely themselves, their argument mainly resting 
on the improbability of a man like Columbus uttering so gross 
a scientific error, at a time when science itself knew no more of 
the existence of the phenomenon, than is known to-day of its 
cause. Still it is possible that the admiral may not have had 
any settled notions on the subject, even while he was half in- 
clined to hope his explanation was correct ; for it is certain 
that, in the midst o£ the astronomical and geographical igno- 
rance of his age, this extraordinary man had many accurate and 
sublime glimpses of truths that were still in embryo as respected 
their development and demonstration by the lights of precise 
and inductive reasoning. 

Fortunately, if the light brought with it the means of ascer- 
taining with certainty the variation of the needle, it also brought 
the means of perceiving that the sea was still covered with 
weeds, and other signs that were thought to be encouraging, as 
connected with the vicinity of land. The current being now 
in the same direction as the wind, the surface of the ocean 
was literally as smooth as that of an inland sheet of water, and 
the vessels were enabled to sail, without danger, within a few 
fathoms of each other. 

" This weed, Seiior Almirante," called out the elder Pinzon, 
u hath the appearance of that which groweth on the banks of 
streams, and I doubt that we are near to the mouth of some 
exceeding great river !" 

" This may be so," returned Columbus; "than which there 
can be no more certain sign than may be found in the taste of 
the water. Let a bucket be drawn, that we may know." 

While Pepe was busied in executing this order, waiting until 
the vessel had passed through a large body of weeds for that 
purpose, the quick eye of the admiral detected a crab strug- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 311 

gling on the surface of the fresh-looking plants, and he called 
to the helmsman in sufficient season, to enable him so far to 
vary his course, as to allow the animal to be taken. 

"Here is a most precious prize, good Martin Alonzo," said 
Columbus, holding the crab between a finger and thumb, that 
the other might see it. u These animals are never known to 
go further than some eighty leagues from the land ; and see, 
Senor, yonder is one of the white tropic birds, which, it is said, 
never sleep on the water ! Truly, God favoreth us ; and what 
rendereth all these tokens more grateful, is the circumstance 
of their coming from the west — the hidden, unknown, mysteri- 
ous west I" 

A common shout burst from the crews at the appearance of 
these signs, and again the beings who lately had been on the 
verge of despair, were buoyed up with hope, and ready to see 
propitious omens in even the most common occurrences of the 
ocean. All the vessels had hauled up buckets of water, and 
fifty mouths were immediately wet with the brine ; and so 
general was the infatuation, that every man declared the sea far 
less salt than usual. So complete, indeed, was the delusion cre- 
ated by these cheerful expectations, and so thoroughly had all 
concern in connection with the moving star been removed by 
the sophism of Sancho, that even Columbus, habitually so 
wary, so reasoning, so calm, amid his loftiest views, yielded to 
his native enthusiasm, and fancied that he was about to discov- 
er some vast island, placed midway between Asia and Europe ; 
an honor not to be despised, though it fell so far short of his 
higher expectations. 

" Truly, friend Martin Alonzo," he said, " this water seem- 
eth to have less of the savor of the sea, than is customary at a 
distance from the outlet of large rivers I" 

"My palate telleth the same tale, Senor Almirante. As a 
further sign f the Nina hath struck another tunny, and her peo- 
ple are at this moment hoisting it in." 

Shout succeeded shout, as each new encouraging proof ap- 
peared ; and the admiral, yielding to the ardor of the crews, 



312 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



ordered sail to be pressed on all the vessels, that each might 
endeavor to outstrip the others, in the hope of being the first 
to discover the expected island. This strife soon separated the 
caravels, the Pinta easily outsailing the other two, while the 
Santa Maria and the Nina came on more slowly, in her rear. 
All was gaiety and mirth, the livelong day, on board those iso- 
lated vessels, that, unknown to those they held, were navigating 
the middle of the Atlantic, with horizon extending beyond 
horizon, without change in the watery boundary, as circle would 
form without circle, on the same element, were a vast mass of 
solid matter suddenly dropped into the -sea. 







MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 313 



CHAPTER XIX. 

* The sails were filled, and fair the light winds blew, 
As glad to waft him from his native home ; 
And fast the white rocks faded from his view, 
And soon were lost in circumambient foam : 
And then, it may be, of his wish to roam 
Repented he, but in his bosom slept 
The silent thought, nor from his lips did come 
One word of wail, whilst others sate and wept, 
And to the reckless gales unmanly moaning kept." 

Childe Harold^ Pilgrimage. 

As night drew near, the Pinta shortened sail, permitting her 
consorts to close. All eyes now turned anxiously to the west, 
where it was hoped that land might at any moment appear. 
The last tint, however, vanished from the horizon, and darkness 
enveloped the ocean without bringing any material change. 
The wind still blew a pleasant breeze from the south-east, and the 
surface of the ocean offered little more inequality than is usually 
met on the bosoms of large rivers. The compasses showed a 
slightly increasing deviation from their old coincidence with the 
polar star, and no one doubted, any longer, that the fault was 
in the heavenly body. All this time the vessels were getting to 
the southward, steering, in fact, west and by south, when they 
thought they were steering west — a circumstance that alone 
prevented Columbus from first reaching the coast of Georgia, 
or that of the Carolinas, since, had he missed the Bermudas, 
the current of the Gulf Stream meeting him on his weather 
bow, he would have infallibly been set well to the northward, 
as he neared the continent. 

The night passed as usual, and at noon of the lVth, or at the 
termination of the nautical day, the fleet had left another long 



314 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

track of ocean between it and the old world. The weeds were 
disappearing, and with them the tunny -fish, which were, in truth, 
feeding on the products of shoals that mounted several thousands 
of feet nearer to the surface of the water, than was the case 
with the general bed of the Atlantic. The vessels usually kept 
near each other at noon, in order to compare their observations ; 
but the Pinta, which, like a swift steed, was with difficulty re- 
strained, shot ahead, until the middle of the afternoon, when, 
as usual, she lay-by for the admiral to close. As the Santa 
Maria came sweeping on, the elder Pinzon stood, cap in hand, 
ready to speak her, waiting only for her to come within sound 
of his voice. 

" God increaseth the signs of land, and the motives of en- 
couragement, Seiior Don Christopher," he called out, cheer- 
fully, while the Pinta filled her sails in order to keep way with 
the admiral. " We have seen large flights of birds ahead, and 
the clouds at the north look heavy and dense, as if hovering 
over some island, or continent, in that quarter." 

"Thou art a welcome messenger, worthy Martin Alonzo ; 
though I wish thee to remember, that the most I expect to 
meet with in this longitude is some cluster of pleasant islands, 
Asia being yet several days' sail more distant. As the night 
approacheth, thou wilt see thy clouds take still more of the form 
of the land, and I doubt that groups may be found on each side 
of us ; but our high destination is Cathay, and men with such an 
object before them, may not turn aside for any lesser errand." 

" Have I your leave, noble admiral, to push ahead in the 
Pinta, that our eyes may first be greeted with the grateful sight 
of Asia ? I nothing doubt of seeing it ere morning." 

" Go, of God's sake, good pilot, if thouthinkest this ; though 
I warn thee that no continent can yet meet thine eyes. Never- 
theless, as any land in these distant and unknown seas must 
be a discovery, and bring credit on Castile, as well as on 
ourselves, he who first perceiveth it will merit the reward. 
Thou, or any one else, hath my full permission to discover is- 
lands, or continents, in thousands." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 315 

The people laughed at this sally, for the light-hearted are 
easily excited to mirth ; and then the Pinta shot ahead. As 
the sun set, she was seen again lying-to for her companions — 
a dark speck on the rainbow colors of the glorious sky. The 
horizon at the north presented masses of clouds, in which it was 
not difficult to fancy the summits of ragged mountains, receding 
valleys, with headlands, and promontories, foreshortened by 
distance. 

The following day the wind baffled, for the first time since 
encountering the trades; and the clouds collected over-head, 
dispersing drizzling showers on the navigators. The vessels 
now lay near each other, and conversation flew from one to the 
other — boats passing and repassing, constantly. 

" I have come, Seiior Almirante," said the elder Pinzon, as 
he reached the deck of the Santa Maria, " at the united request 
of my people, to beg that we may steer to the north, in quest of 
land, islands and continent, that no doubt lie there, and thus 
crown this great enterprise with the glory that is due to our 
illustrious sovereigns, and your own forethought." 

" The wish is just, good Martin Alonzo, and fairly expressed, 
but it may not be granted. That we should make creditable 
discoveries, by thus steering, is highly probable, but in so doing 
we should fall far short of our aim. Cathay and the Great 
Khan still lie west ; and we are here, not to add another group, 
like the Canaries, or the Azores, to the knowledge of man, but to 
complete the circle of the earth, and to open the way for the 
setting up of the cross in the regions that have so long been 
the property of infidels." 

" Hast thou nothing to say, Senor de Munos, in support of 
our petition ? Thou hast favor with his Excellency, and may 
prevail on him to grant us this small behest I" 

" To tell thee the truth, good Martin Alonzo," answered Luis, 
with more of the indifference of manner that might have been 
expected from the grandee to the pilot, than the respect that 
would become the secretary to the second person of the expedi- 
tion— u to tell thee the truth good Martin Alonzo, my heart is so 



316 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

set on tha conversion of the Great Khan, that I wish not to turn 
either to the right or left, until that glorious achievement be 
sufficiently secure. I have observed that Satan effecteth little 
against those who keep in the direct path, while his success 
with those who turn aside is so material, as to people his do- 
minions with errants." 

" Is there no hope, noble admiral? and must we quit all 
these cheering signs, without endeavoring to trace them to some 
advantageous conclusion ?" 

" I see no better course, worthy friend. This rain indicateth 
land ; also this calm ; and here is a visitor that denoteth more 
than either — yonder, in the direction of thy Pinta, where it 
seemeth disposed to rest its wings." 

Pinzon, and all near him, turned, and, to their common de- 
light and astonishment, they saw a pelican, with extended wings 
that spread for ten feet, sailing a few fathoms above the sea, 
and apparently aiming at the vessel named. The adventurous 
bird, however, as if disdaining to visit one of inferior rank, 
passed the Pinta, and, sweeping up grandly toward the admiral, 
alighted on a yard of the Santa Maria. 

"If this be not a certain sign of the vicinity of land," said 
Columbus gravely, "it is what is far better, a sure omen that 
God is with us. He is sending these encouraging calls to con- 
firm us in our intention to serve him, and to persevere to the 
end. Never before, Martin Alonzo, have I seen a bird of this 
species a day's sail from the shore !" 

"Such is my experience, too, noble admiral; and, with you, 
I look upon this visit as a most propitious omen. May it not 
be a hint to turn aside, and to look further in this quarter?" 

"I accept it not as such, but rather as a motive to proceed. 
At our return from the Indies, we may examine this part of the 
ocean with greater security, though I shall think naught accom- 
plished until India be fairly reached, and India is still hundreds 
of leagues distant. As the time is favorable, however, we will 
call together our pilots, and see how each man placeth his vessel 
on the chart." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 317 

At this suggestion, all the navigators assembled on board the 
Santa Maria, and each man made his calculations, sticking a 
pin in the rude chart — rude as to accuracy, but beautiful as to 
execution — -that the admiral, with the lights he then possessed, 
had made of the Atlantic ocean. Vicente Yanez, and his com- 
panions of the Nina, placed their pin most in advance, after 
measuring off four hundred and forty marine leagues from 
Gomera. Martin Alonzo varied a little from this, setting his 
pin some twenty leagues farther east. When it was the turn 
of Columbus, he stuck a pin twenty leagues still short of that 
of Martin Alonzo, his companions having, to all appearance, 
like less skilful calculators, thus much advanced ahead of their 
true distance. It was then determined what was to be stated 
to the crews, and the pilots returned to their respective vessels. 

It would seem that Columbus really believed he was then 
passing between islands, and his historian, Las Casas, affirms 
that he was actually right in his conjecture ; but if islands ever 
existed in that part of the ocean, they have long since dis- 
appeared ; a phenomenon which, while it is not impossible, can 
scarcely be deemed probable. It is said that breakers have 
been seen, even within the present century, in this vicinity, and 
it is not unlikely that extensive banks do exist, though Colum- 
bus found no bottom with two hundred fathoms of line. The 
great collection of weeds, is a fact authenticated by some of the 
oldest records of human investigations, and is most probably 
owing to some effect of the currents which has a tendency to 
bring about such an end ; while the birds must be considered 
as -stragglers lured from their usual haunts by the food that 
would be apt to be collected by the union of weeds and fish. 
Aquatic birds can always rest on the water, and the animal that 
can wing its way through the air at the rate of thirty, or even 
fifty miles the hour, needs only sufficient strength, to cross the 
entire Atlantic in four days and nights. 

Notwithstanding all these cheering signs, the different crews 
soon began to feel again the weight of a renewed despondency. 
Sancho, who was in constant but secret communication with 
H 



313 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

the admiral, kept the latter properly advised of the state of the 
people, and reported that more murmurs than usual prevailed, 
the men having passed again, by the suddenness of the reaction, 
from the most elastic hope, nearly to the verge of despair. This 
fact was told Columbus just at sunset on the evening of the 
20th, or on that of the eleventh day after the fleet lost sight of 
land, and while the seaman was affecting to be busy on the 
poop, where he made most of his communications. 

" They complain, your Excellency," continued Sancho, " of 
the smoothness of the water ; and they say that when the winds 
blow at all, in these seas, they come only from the eastward, 
having no power to blow from any other quarter. The calms, 
they think, prove that we are getting into a part of the ocean 
where there is no wind ; and the east winds, they fancy, are 
sent by Providence to drive those there who have displeased 
Heaven by a curiosity that it was never intended that any who 
wear beards should possess." 

" Do thou encourage them, Sancho, by reminding the poor 
fellows that calms prevail, at times, in all seas ; and, as for the 
east winds, is it not well known that they blow from off the 
African shores, in low latitudes, at all seasons of the year, fol- 
lowing the sun in his daily track around the earth ? I trust 
thou hast none of this silly apprehension ?" 

"I endeavor to keep a stout heart, Senor Don Almirante, 
having no one before me to disgrace, and leaving no one behind 
me to mourn over my loss. Still, I should like to hear a little 
about the riches of those distant lands, as I find the thoughts 
of their gold and precious stones have a sort of religious charm 
over my weakness, when I begin to muse upon Moguer and its 
good cheer." 

" Go to, knave ; thy appetite for money is insatiable ; take 
yet another dobla, and as thou gazest on it thou mayst fancy 
what thou wilt of the coin of the Great Khan ; resting certain 
that so great a monarch is not without gold, any more than he 
is probably without the disposition to part with it, when there 
is occasion." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 319 

Sancho received his fee, and left the poop to Columbus and 
our hero. 

" These ups and downs among the knaves," said Luis, im- 
patiently, " were best quelled, Senor, by an application of the 
flat of the sword, or, at need, of its edge." 

" This may not be, my young friend, without, at, least far 
more occasion than yet existeth for the severity. Think not 
that I have passed so many years of my life in soliciting the 
means to effect so great a purpose, and have got thus far on my 
way, in unknown seas, with a disposition to be easily turned 
aside from my purpose. But God hath not created all alike ; 
neither hath he afforded equal chances for knowledge to the 
peasant and the noble. I have vexed my spirit too often, with 
arguments on this very subject, with the great and learned, not 
to bear a little with the ignorance of the vulgar. Fancy how 
much fear would have quickened the wits of the sages of Sala- 
manca, had our discussion been held in the middle of the At- 
lantic, where man never had been, and whence no eyes but 
those of logic and science could discover a safe passage." 

" This is most true, Senor Almirante ; and yet, methinks the 
knights that were of your antagonists should not have been 
wholly unmanned by fear. What danger have we here ? this is 
the wide ocean, it is true, and we are no doubt distant some 
hundreds of leagues from the known islands, but, we are not the 
less safe. By San Pedro ! I have seen more lives lost in a single 
onset of the Moors, than these caravels could hold in bodies, 
and blood enough spilt to float them !" 

"The dangers our people dread may be less turbulent than 
those of a Moorish fray, Don Luis, but they are not the less 
terrible. Where is the spring that is to furnish water to the 
parched lip, when our stores shall fail ; and where the field to 
give us its bread and nourishment ? It is a fearful thing to be 
brought down to the dregs of life, by the failure of food and 
water, on the surface of the wide ocean, dying by inches, often 
without the consolations of the church, and ever without Chris- 
tian sepulture. These are the fancies of the seaman, and he is 



320 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

only to be driven from them violently when duty demands ex- 
treme remedies for his disease." 

" To me it seemeth, Don Christopher, that it will be time to 
reason thus, when our casks are drained, and the last biscuit is 
broken. Until then, I ask leave of your Excellency to apply 
the necessary logic to the outside of the heads of these varlets, 
instead of their insides, of which I much question the capacity 
to hold any good." 

Columbus too well understood the hot nature of the young 
noble to make a serious reply ; and they both stood some time 
leaning against the mizen-mast, watching the scene before them, 
and musing on the chances of their situation. It was night, 
and the figures of the watch, on the deck beneath, were visible 
only by a light that rendered it difficult to distinguish counte- 
nances. The men were grouped ; and it was evident by the 
low but eager tones in which they conversed, that they dis- 
cussed matters connected with the calm, and the risks they ran. 
The outlines of the Pinta and Nina were visible, beneath a 
firmament that was studded with brilliants, their lazy sails 
hanging in festoons, like the drapery of curtains, and their 
black hulls were as stationary as if they both lay moored in 
one of the rivers of Spain. It was a bland and gentle night, 
but the immensity of the solitude, the deep calm of the slum- 
bering ocean, and even the occasional creaking of a spar, by re- 
calling to the mind the actual presence of vessels so situated, 
rendered the scene solemn, almost to sublimity. 

" Dost thou detect aught fluttering in the rigging, Luis ?" 
the admiral cautiously inquired. " My ear deceiveth me, or I 
hear something on the wing. The sounds, moreover, are 
quick and slight, like those produced by birds of indifferent 
size." 

"Don Christopher, you are right. There are little creatures 
perched on the upper yards, and that of a size like the smaller 
songsters of the land." 

"Hark !" interrupted the admiral. "That is a joyous note, 
and of such a melody as might be met in one of the orange 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 321 

groves of Seville, itself ! God be praised for this sign of the ex- 
tent and unity of his kingdom, since land cannot well be distant, 
when creatures, gentle and frail as these, have so lately taken 
their flight from it!" 

The presence of these birds soon became known to all on 
deck, and their songs brought more comfort than the most able 
mathematical demonstration, even though founded on modern 
learning, could have produced on the sensitive feelings of the 
common men. 

" I told thee land was near," cried Sancho, turning with ex- 
ultation to Martin Martinez, his constant disputant ; " here 
thou hast the proof of it, in a manner that none but the traitor 
will deny. Thou hearest the songs of orchard birds — notes 
that would never come from the throats of the tired ; and which 
sound as gaily as if the dear little feathered rogues were peck- 
ing at a fig or a grape in a field of Spain." 

" Sancho is right I" exclaimed the seamen. " The air savors 
of land, too ; and the sea hath a look of the land ; and God is 
with us — blessed be his Holy name — and honor to our lord the 
king, and to our gracious mistress, Dona Isabella !" 

From this moment concern seemed to leave the vessel, again. 
It was thought, even by the admiral himself, that the presence of 
birds so small, and which were judged to be so feeble of wing, 
was an unerring evidence that land was nigh ; and land, too, of 
generous productions, and a mild, gentle climate ; for these warb- 
lers, like the softer sex of the human family, best love scenes 
that most favor their gentle propensities and delicate habits. 

Investigation has since proved that, in this particular, how- 
ever plausible the grounds of error, Columbus was deceived. 
Men often mistake the powers of the inferior animals of crea- 
tion, and at other times they overrate the extent of their in- 
stinct. In point of fact, a bird of light weight would be less 
liable to perish on the ocean, and in that low latitude, than a 
bird of more size, neither being aquatic. The sea-weed itself 
would furnish resting-places without number for the smaller ani- 
mals, and, in some instances, it would probably furnish food. 



1322 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

That birds, purely of the land, should take long flights at sea, 
is certainly improbable ; but, apart from the consequence of 
gales, which often force even that heavy-winged animal the owl, 
hundreds of miles from the land, instinct is not infallible ; whales 
being frequently found embayed in shallow waters, and birds 
sailing beyond the just limits of their habits. Whatever may 
have been the cause of the opportune appearance of these little 
inhabitants of the orchard on the spars of the Santa Maria, the 
effect was of the most auspicious kind on the spirits of the men. 
As long as they sang, no amateurs ever listened to the most 
brilliant passages from the orchestra with greater delight than 
those rude seamen listened to their warbling; and while they 
slept, it was with a security that had its existence in veneration 
and gratitude. The songs were renewed with the dawn, shortly 
after which the whole went off in a body, taking their flight 
toward the south-west. The next day brought a calm, and then 
an air so light, that the vessels could with difficulty make their 
way through the dense masses of weeds, that actually gave the 
ocean the appearance of vast inundated meadows. The current 
was now found to be from the west, and shortly after day-light 
a new source of alarm was reported by Sancho. 

" The people have got a notion in their heads, Senor Almi- 
rante, which partaketh so much of the marvellous, that it find- 
eth exceeding favor with such as love miracles more than they 
love God. Martin Martinez, who is a philosopher in the way 
of terror, maintaineth that this sea, into which we seem to be 
entering deeper and deeper, lieth over sunken islands, and that 
the weeds, which it would be idle to deny grow more abundant 
as we proceed, will shortly get to be so plentiful on the surface 
of the water, that the caravels will become unable to advance 
or to retreat." 

u Doth Martin find any to believe this silly notion V 
" Senor Don Almirante, he doth; and for the plain reason 
that it is easier to find those who are ready to believe an ab- 
surdity, than to find those who will only believe truth. But 
the man is backed by some unlucky chances, that must come 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 323 

of the Powers of Darkness, more particularly as they can have 
no great wish to see your Excellency reach Cathay, with the 
intention of making a Christian of the Great Khan, and of 
planting the tree of the cross in his dominions. This calm 
sorely troubleth many, moreover, and the birds are beginning 
to be looked upon as creatures sent by Satan himself, to lead us 
whither we can never return. Some even believe we shall tread 
on shoals, and lie forever stranded wrecks in the midst of the 
wide ocean !" 

" Go, bid the men prepare to sound; I will show them the 
folly of this idea, at least ; and see that all are summoned to 
witness the experiment." 

- Columbus now repeated this order to the pilots, and the deep- 
sea was let go in the usual manner. Fathom after fathom of 
the line glided Over the rail, the lead taking its unerring way 
toward the bottom, until so little was left as to compel the 
downward course to be arrested. 

" Ye see, my friends, that we are yet full two hundred fathoms 
from the shoals ye so much dread, and as much more as the sea 
is deeper than our measurement. Lo ! yonder, too, is a whale, 
spouting the water before him — a creature never seen except 
on the coasts of large islands or continents." 

This appeal of Columbus, which was in conformity with the 
notions of the day, had its weight — his crew being naturally most 
under the influence of notions that were popular. It is now 
known, however, that whales frequent those parts of the ocean 
where their food is most abundant, and one of the best grounds 
for taking them, of late years, has been what is called the False 
Brazil Banks, which lie near the centre of the ocean. In a word, 
all those signs, that were connected with the movements of birds 
and fishes, and which appear to have had so much effect, not 
only on the common men of this great enterprise, but on Co- 
lumbus himself, were of far less real importance than was then 
believed ; navigators being so little accustomed to venture far 
from the land themselves, that they were not duly acquainted 
with the mysteries of the open ocean. 



324 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Notwithstanding the moments of cheerfulness and hope that 
intervened, distrust and apprehension were fast getting to he 
again the prevailing feelings among the mariners. Those who 
had been most disaffected from the first, seized every occasion 
to increase these apprehensions ; and when the sun rose, Satur- 
day, September 2 2d, on a calm sea, there were not a few in the 
vessels who w r ere disposed to unite in making another de- 
mand on the admiral to turn the heads of the caravels toward 
the east. 

" We have come some hundreds of leagues before a fair wind, 
into a sea that is entirely unknown to man, until we have reached 
a part of the ocean where the wind seems altogether to fail us, 
and where there is danger of our being bound up in immov- 
able weeds, or stranded on sunken islands, without the means 
of procuring food or water 1" 

Arguments like these were suited to an age in which even the 
most learned were obliged to grope their way to accurate 
knowledge, through the mists of superstition and ignorance, and 
in which it was a prevailing weakness to put faith, on the one 
hand, in visible proofs of the miraculous power of God, and, on 
the other, in substantial evidences of the ascendency of evil 
spirits, as they were permitted to affect the temporal affairs of 
those they persecuted. 

It was, therefore, most fortunate for the success of the ex- 
pedition, that a light breeze sprang up from southward and 
westward, in the early part of the day just mentioned, enabling 
the vessels to gather way, and to move beyond the vast fields 
of weeds, that equally obstructed the progress of the caravels, 
and awakened the fears of their people. As it was an object to 
get clear of the floating obstacles that surrounded the vessels, 
the first large opening that offered was entered, and then 
the fleet was brought close upon a wind, heading as near as 
possible to the desired course. Columbus now believed himself 
to be steering west-north-west, when, in fact, he was sailing in 
a direction far nearer to his true course, than when his ships 
headed west by compass ; the departure from the desired line 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. • 825 

of sailing, being owing to the variation in the needle. This 
circumstance alone, would seem to establish the fact, that Co- 
lumbus believed in his own theory of the moving star, since he 
would hardly have steered west-and-by-south-half-south, with a 
fair wind, for many days in succession, as he is known to have 
done, when it was his strongest wish to proceed directly west. 
Tie was now heading up, within half a point of the latter 
course, though he and all with him, fancied they were running 
off nearly two points to leeward of the so much desired di- 
rection. 

But these little variations were trifles as compared with the 
advantage that the admiral obtained over the fears of his follow- 
ers by the shift of the wind, and the liberation from the weeds. 
By the first, the men saw a proof that the breezes did not 
always blow from the same quarter ; and by the last, they as- 
certained that they had not actually reached a point where the 
ocean had become impassable. Although the wind was now 
favorable to return to the Canaries, no one any longer demanded 
that such a course should be adopted, so apt are we all to desire 
that which appears to be denied to us, and so ready to despise 
that which lies perfectly at our disposal. 

This, indeed, was a moment when the feelings of the people 
appeared to be as variable as the light and baffling winds them- 
selves. The Saturday passed away in the manner just men- 
tioned, the vessels once more entering into large fields of weeds, 
just as the sun set. When the light returned, the airs headed 
them off to north-west and north-west-by-north, by compass, 
which was, in truth, steering north-west-by-west-half-west, and 
north- west-half- west. Birds abounded again, among which 
was a turtle-dove, and many living crabs were seen crawling 
among the weeds. All these signs would have encouraged the 
common men, had they not already so often proved deceptive. 

" Senor," said Martin Martinez, to the admiral, when Colum- 
bus went among the crew to raise their drooping spirits, " we 
know not what to think ! For days did the wind blow in the 
same direction, leading us on, as it might be, to our ruin ; and 



.326 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

then it hath deserted us in such a sea as mariners in the Santa 
Maria never before saw. A sea, looking like meadows on a 
river side, and which wanteth only kine and cow-herds, to be 
mistaken for fields a little overflowed by a rise of the water, is 
a fearful thing !" 

"Thy meadows are the weeds of the ocean, and prove the 
richness of the nature that hath produced them ; while thy 
breezes from the east, are what all who have ever made the 
Guinea voyage, well know to exist in latitudes so low. I see 
naught in either to alarm a bold seaman ; and as for the bot- 
tom, we all know it hath not yet been found by many a long 
and weary fathom of line. Pepe, thou hast none of these weak- 
nesses ; but hast set thy heart on Cathay and a sight of the 
Great Khan?" 

" Seiior Almirante, as I swore to Monica, so do I swear to 
your Excellency ; and that is to be true and obedient. If the 
cross is to be raised among the Infidels, my hand shall not be 
backward in doing its share toward the holy act. Still, Seiior, 
none of us like this long unnatural calm. Here is an ocean 
that hath no waves, but a surface so smooth that we much dis- 
trust whether the waters obey the same laws, as they are known 
to do near Spain ; for never before have I beheld a sea that 
hath so much the air of the dead ! May it not be, Seiior, that 
God hath placed a belt of this calm and stagnant water around 
the outer edges of the earth, in order to prevent the unheedy 
from looking into some of his sacred secrets V 

"Thy reasoning hath, at least, a savor of religion; and, 
though faulty, can scarce be condemned. God hath placed 
man on this earth, Pepe, to be its master, and to serve him by 
extending the dominion of his church, as well as by turning to 
the best account all the numberless blessings that accompany 
the great gift. As to the limits, of which thou speakest, they 
exist only in idea, the earth being a sphere, or a ball, to which 
there are no other edges than those thou seest everywhere on 
its surface." 

" And as for what Martin saith," put in Sancho, who was 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 327 

never at fault for a fact, or for a reason, " concerning the winds, 
and the weeds, and the calms, I can only wonder where a sea- 
man of his years hath been navigating so long, that these things 
should be novelties. To me, all this is as common as dish- 
water at Moguer, and so much a matter of course, that I should 
not have remarked it, but for the whinings of Martin and his 
fellows. When the Santa Catalina made the voyage to that 
far-off region, Ireland, we landed on the sea-weed, a distance 
of half a league or so from the coast ; and as for the wind, it 
blew regularly four weeks from one quarter, and four weeks 
from the other ; after which the people of the country said it 
would blow four weeks each way, transversely ; but we did not 
remain long enough in those seas to enable me to swear to the 
two last facts." 

" Hast thou not heard of shoals so wide that a caravel could 
never find its way out of them, if it once entered ?" demanded 
Martinez, fiercely, for, much addicted to gross exaggerations 
himself, he little liked to be outdone ; " and do not these weeds 
bespeak our near approach to such a danger, when the weeds 
themselves often are so closely packed as to come near to stop 
the ship f" 

" Enough of this," said the admiral: " at times we have 
weeds, and then we are altogether free from them ; these 
changes are owing to the currents ; no doubt as soon as we 
have passed this meridian, we shall come to clear water again." 

"But the calm, Senor Almirante," exclaimed a dozen voices. 
" This unnatural smoothness of the ocean frighteneth us ! 
.Never before did we see water so stagnant and immovable !" 

"Call ye this stagnant and immovable?" exclaimed the ad- 
miral. " Nature herself arises ta reproach your senseless fears, 
and to contradict your mistaken reasoning, by her own signs 
and portents!" 

This was said as the Santa Maria's bows rose on a long low 
swell, every spar creaking at the motion, and the whole hull 
heaving and setting as the billow passed beneath it, washing 
the sides of the ship from the water-line to its channels. At 



328 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

this moment there was not even a breath of air, and the seamen 
gazed about them with an astonishment that was increased and 
rendered extreme by dread. The ship had scarcely settled 
heavily into the long trough when a second wave lifted her 
again forward, and billow succeeded billow, each successive 
wave increasing in height, until the entire ocean was undulat- 
ing, though only marked at distant intervals, and that slightly, 
by the foam of crests or combing seas. It took half an hour to 
bring this phenomenon up to its height, when all three vessels 
were wallowing in the seas, as mariners term it, their hulls 
falling off helplessly into the troughs, until the water fairly 
spouted from their low scuppers, as each rose by her buoyancy 
from some roll deeper than common. Fancying that this occur- 
rence promised to be either a source of new alarm, or a means 
of appeasing the old one, Columbus took early measures to turn 
it to account, in the latter mode. Causing all the crew to as- 
semble at the break of the poop, he addressed them, briefly, in 
the following words : 

" Ye see, men, that your late fears about the stagnant ocean 
are rebuked, in this sudden manner, as it might be, by the 
hand of Glod himself, proving, beyond dispute, that no danger is 
to be apprehended from that source. I might impose on your 
ignorance, and insist that this sudden rising of the sea is a mir- 
acle wrought to sustain me against your rebellious repinings and 
unthinking alarms ; but the cause in which I am engaged needs 
no support of this nature, that doth not truly come from heav- 
en. The calms, and the smoothness of the water, and even the 
w r eeds of which ye complain, come from the vicinity of some 
great body of land ; I think not a continent, as that must lie still 
further west, but of islands, either so large or so numerous, as 
lo make a far-extended lee ; while these swells are probably the 
evidence of wind at a distance, which hath driven up the ocean 
into mountainous waves, such as we often see them, and which 
send out their dying efforts, even beyond the limits of the 
gale. I do not say that this intervention, to appease your fears, 
doth not come of God, in whose hands I am ; for this last do I 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. mV 

fully believe, and for it am I fully grateful ; but it cometh 
through the agencies of nature, and can in no sense be deemed 
providential, except as it demonstrated the continuance of the 
divine care, as well as its surpassing goodness. Go, then, and 
be tranquil. Eemember, if Spain be far behind ye, that Cathay 
now lieth at no great distance before ye ; that each hour short- 
eneth that distance, as well as the time necessary to reach our 
goal. He that remaineth true and faithful, shall not repent his 
confidence ; while he who unnecessarily disturbeth either him- 
self or others, with silly doubts, may look forward to an exer- 
cise of authority that shall maintain the rights of their High- 
nesses to the duty of all their servants." 

We record this speech of the great navigator with so much 
the more pleasure, as it goes fully to establish the fact that he 
did not believe the sudden rising of the seas, on this occasion, 
was owing to a direct miracle, as some of the historians and 
biographers seem inclined to believe ; but rather to a providen- 
tial interference of Divine Power, through natural means, in 
order to protect him against the consequences of the blind ap- 
prehensions of his followers. It is not easy, indeed, to suppose 
that a seaman as experienced as Columbus, could be ignorant of 
the natural cause of a circumstance so very common on the 
ocean, 'that those who dwell on its coast have frequent occasion 
to witness its occurrence. 



330 ME K CEDES OF CASTILE. 



CHAPTER XX. 

" * Or a pro nobis, Mater V — what a spell 
"Was in those notes, with day's last glory dying 
On the flush'd waters — seemed they not to swell 
From the far dnst, wherein my sires were lying 
"With crucifix and sword ? — Oh ! yet how clear 
Comes their reproachful sweetness to my ear ! 
i Ora' 1 — with all the purple waves replying, 
All my youth's visions rising in the strain — 
And I had thought it much to bear the rack and chain !" 

The Fokest Sanctuary. 

It may now be well to recapitulate, and to let the reader dis- 
tinctly know how far the adventurers had actually advanced 
into the unknown waters of the Atlantic ; what was their real, 
and what their supposed position. As has been seen, from the 
time of quitting Gomera, the admiral kept two reckonings, one 
intended for his own government, which came as near the truth 
as the imperfect means of the science of navigation that, were 
then in use would allow, and another that was freely exhibited 
to the crew, and was purposely miscalculated in order to pre- 
vent alarm, on account of the distance that had been passed. 
As Columbus believed himself to be employed in the service of 
God, this act of deception would be thought a species of pious 
fraud, in that devout age ; and it is by no means probable that 
it gave the conscience of the navigator any trouble, since 
churchmen, even, did not hesitate always about buttressing the 
walls of faith by means still less justifiable. 

The long calms and light head-winds had prevented the ves- 
sels from making much progress for the few last days ; and, by 
estimating the distance that was subsequently run in a course 
but a little south of west, it appears, notwithstanding all the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 331 

encouraging signs of birds, fishes, calms, and smooth water, that 
on the morning of Monday, September 24th, or that of the 
fifteenth day after losing sight of Ferro, the expedition was 
about half-way across the Atlantic, counting from continent to 
continent, on the parallel of about 31 or 32 degrees of north 
latitude. The circumstance of the vessels being so far north 
of the Canaries, when it is known that they had been running 
most of the time west, a little southerly, must be imputed to 
the course steered in the scant winds, and perhaps to the gen- 
eral set of the currents. With this brief explanation, we return 
to the daily progress of the ships. 

The influence of the trades was once more felt, though in a 
very slight degree, in the course of the twenty-four hours that 
succeeded the day of the " miraculous seas," and the vessels 
again headed west by compass. Birds were seen as usual, 
among which was a pelican. The whole progress of the ves- 
sels was less than fifty miles, a distance that was lessened, as 
usual, in the public reckoning. 

The morning of the 25th was calm, but the wind returned, a 
steady, gentle breeze from the south-east, when the day was far 
advanced, the caravels passing most of the hours of light float- 
ing near each other in a lazy indolence, or barely stirring the 
water with their stems, at a rate little, if any, exceeding that of 
a mile an hour. 

The Pinta kept near the Santa Maria, and the officers and 
crews of the two vessels conversed freely with each other con- 
cerning their hopes and situation. Columbus listened to these 
dialogues for a long time, endeavoring to collect the predomi- 
nant feeling from the more guarded expressions that were thus 
publicly delivered, and watching each turn of the expressions 
with jealous vigilance. At length it struck him that the occa- 
sion was favorable to producing a good effect on the spirits of 
his followers. 

" What hast thou thought of the chart I sent thee three days 
since, good Martin ^lonzo?" called out the admiral. "Dost 
tlfiou see in it aught to satisfy thee that we are approach- 



332 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

ing the Indies, and that our time of trial draweth rapidly to 
an end ?" 

At the first sound of the admiral's voice, every syllable was 
hushed among the people ; for, in spite of their discontent, and 
their disposition even to rise against him, in their extremity, 
Columbus had succeeded in creating a profound respect for his 
judgment and his person among all his followers. 

" 'Tis a rare and well-designed chart, Seiior Don Christo- 
pher," answered the master of the Pinta, " and doth a fair 
credit to him who hath copied and enlarged, as well as to him 
who first projected it. I doubt that it is the work of some 
learned scholar, that hath united the opinions of all the greater 
navigators in his map." 

" The original came from one Paul Toscanelli, a learned 
Tuscan, who dwelleth at Firenze in that country ; a man of 
exceeding knowledge, and of an industry in investigation that 
putteth idleness to shame. Accompanying the chart he sent a 
missive that hath much profound and learned matter on the 
subject of the Indies, and touching those islands that thou seest 
laid down with so much particularity. In that letter he speak- 
eth of divers places, as being so many wonderful exemplars of 
the power of man ; more especially of the port of Zaiton, which 
sendeth forth no less than a hundred ships yearly, loaded with 
the single product of the pepper-tree. He saith, moreover, 
that an ambassador came to the Holy Father, in the time of 
Eugenius IV., of blessed memory, to express the desire of the 
Great Khan, which meaneth King of Kings, in the dialect of 
those regions, to be on friendly terms with the Christians of 
the west, as we were then termed ; but of the east, as will shortly 
be our designation in that part of the world." 

" This is surprising, Sefior !" exclaimed Pinzon : " how is it 
known, or is it known at all, of a certainty ¥\ 

" Beyond a question ; since Paul stateth, in his missive, that 
he saw much of this same ambassador, living greatly in his 
society, Eugenius deceasing as lately as 1477. From the am- 
bassador, no doubt a wise and grave personage, since no other 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE 333 

would have been sent so far on a mission to the Head of the 
Church ; from this discreet person, then, did Toscanelli gain 
much pleasant information concerning the populousness and 
vast extent of those distant countries, the gorgeousness of the 
palaces, and the glorious beauty of the cities. He spoke of 
one town, in particular, that surpasseth all others of the known 
world ; and of a single river that hath two hundred noble cities 
on its own banks, with marble bridges spanning the stream. 
The chart before thee, Martin Alonzo, showeth that the exact 
distance from Lisbon to the city of Quisay is just three thou- 
sand nine hundred miles of Italy, or about a thousand leagues, 
steering always in a due-west direction."* 

" And doth the learned Tuscan say aught of the riches of 
those countries ?" demanded Master Alonzo — a question that 
caused all within hearing to prick up their ears, afresh. 

" That doth he, and in these precise and impressive words — 
' This is a noble country,' observed the learned Paul, in his 
missive, ' and ought to be explored by us, on account of its 
great riches, and the quantity of gold, silver, and precious 
stones, which might be obtained there.' He moreover de- 
scribed Quisay as being five-and-thirty leagues in circuit, and 
addeth that its name in the Castilian, is ' the City of 
Heaven.'" 

" In which case," muttered Sancho, though in a tone so low 
that no one but Pepe heard him, " there is little need of our 
bearing thither the cross, which was intended for the benefit of 
man, and not of paradise." 

" I see here two large islands, Seiior Almirante," continued 
Pinzon, keeping his eyes on the chart, " one of which is called 
Antilla, and the other is the Cipango of which your Excellency 
so often speaketh." 

" Even so, good Martin Alonzo, and thou also seest that they 
are laid down with a precision that must prevent any expe- 

* Note. — It is worthy of remark that the city of Philadelphia stands, as near as may 
be, in the position that the honest Paul Toscanelli supposed to have been occupied bt 
K the famous city of Quisay. 1 ' 



334 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

rienced navigator from missing his way, when in pursuit of 
them. These islands lie just two hundred and twenty-five 
leagues asunder." 

" According to our reckoning, here, in the Pinta, noble 
Admiral, we cannot, then, be far from Cipango at this very 
moment." 

"It would so seem by the reckonings, though I somewhat 
doubt their justness. It is a common error of pilots to run 
ahead of their reckonings, but in this instance, apprehension 
hath brought ye behind them. Cipango lieth many days' sail 
from the continent of Asia, and cannot, therefore, be far from 
this spot ; still the currents have been adverse, and I doubt that 
it will be found that we are as near this island, good Martin 
Alonzo, as thou and thy companions imagine. Let the chart 
be returned, and I will trace our actual position on it, that all 
may see what reason there is to despond, and what reason to 
rejoice," 

Pinzon now took the chart, rolled it together carefully, at- 
tached a light weight, and securing the whole with the end of a 
log-line, he hove it on board the Santa Maria, as a seaman 
makes a cast with the lead. So near were the vessels at the 
moment, that this communication was made without any diffi- 
culty ; after which, the Pinta, letting fall an additional sail or 
two, flapped slowly ahead, her superiority, particularly in light 
winds, being at all times apparent. 

Columbus now caused the chart to be spread over a table on 
the poop, and invited all who chose to draw near, in order that 
they might, with their own eyes, see the precise spot on the 
ocean where the admiral supposed the vessels to be. As each 
day's work was accurately laid down, and measured on the 
chart, by one as expert as the great navigator himself, there is 
little question that he succeeded in showing his people, as near 
as might be, and subject to the deduction in distance that was 
intentionally made, the longitude and latitude to which the ex- 
pedition had then reached ; and as this brought them quite 
near those islands which were believed to lie east of the conti- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 335 

neni of Asia, this tangible proof of their progress had far more 
effect than any demonstration that depended on abstract reason- 
ing, even when grounded on premises that were true ; most 
men submitting sooner to the authority of the senses, than to 
the influence of the mere mind. The seamen did not stop to in- 
quire how it was settled that Cipango lay in the precise place 
where it had been projected on this famous chart, but, seeing 
it there, in black and white, they were disposed to believe it 
was really in the spot it appeared to be ; and, as Columbus' 
reputation for keeping a ship's reckoning far surpassed that of 
any other navigator in the fleet, the facts were held to be 
established. Great was the joy, in consequence ; and the 
minds of the people again passed from the verge of despair 
to an excess and illusion of hope, that was raised only to be 
disappointed. 

That Columbus was sincere in all that related to this new 
delusion, with the exception of the calculated reduction of the 
true distance, is beyond a doubt. In common with the cosmog- 
raphers of the age, he believed the circumference of the earth 
much less than actual measurement has since shown it to be ; 
striking out of the calculation, at once, nearly the whole breadth 
of the Pacific Ocean. That this conclusion was very natural, 
will be seen by glancing at the geographical facts that the 
learned then possessed, as data for their theories. 

It was known that the continent of Asia was bounded on the 
east by a vast ocean, and that a similar body of water bounded 
Europe on the west, leaving the plausible inference, on the 
supposition that the earth was a sphere, that nothing but is- 
lands existed between these two great boundaries of land. Less 
than half of the real circumference of the globe is to be found 
between the western and eastern verges of the old continent, as 
they were then known ; but it was too bold an effort of the 
mind, to conceive that startling fact, in the condition of human 
knowledge at the close of the fifteenth century. The theories 
were consequently content with drawing the limits of the east 
and the west into a much narrower circle, finding no data for 



336 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

any freer speculation ; and believing it a sufficient act of bold- 
ness to maintain the spherical formation of the earth at all. It 
is true, that the latter theory was as old as Ptolemy, and quite 
probably much older; but even the antiquity of a system be- 
gins to be an argument against it, in the minds of the vulgar, 
when centuries elapse, and it receives no confirmation from 
actual experiment. Columbus supposed his island of Cipango, 
or Japan, to lie about one hundred and forty degrees of longi- 
tude east of its actual position ; and, as a degree of longitude 
in the latitude of Japan, or 35° north, supposing the surface of 
the earth to be perfectly spherical, is about fifty-six statute 
miles, it follows that Columbus had advanced this island, on 
his chart, more than seven thousand English miles toward the 
eastward, or a distance materially exceeding two thousand ma- 
rine leagues. 

All this, however, was not only hidden in mystery as regards 
the common men of the expedition, but it far outstripped the 
boldest conceptions of the great navigator himself. Facts of this 
nature, notwithstanding, are far from detracting from the glory 
of the vast discoveries- that were subsequently made, since they 
prove under what moral disadvantages the expedition was 
conceived, and under what a limited degree of knowledge it 
finally triumphed. 

While Columbus was thus employed with the chart, it was a 
curious thing to witness the manner in which the seamen 
watched his smallest movement, studied the expression of his 
grave and composed countenance, and sought to read their fate 
in the contraction, or dilation, of his eyes. The gentlemen of 
the Santa Maria, and the pilots, stood at his elbow, and here 
and there some old mariner ventured to take his post at hand, 
where he could follow the slow progress of the pen, or note the 
explanation of a figure. Among these was Sancho, who was 
generally admitted to be one of the most expert seamen in the 
little fleet — in all things, at least, that did not require the knowl- 
edge of the schools. Columbus even turned to these men, and 
spoke to them kindly, endeavoring to make them comprehend 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 337 

a part of their calling, which they saw practised daily, without 
ever succeeding in acquiring a practical acquaintance with it, 
pointing out particularly the distance come, and that which yet 
remained before them. Others, again, the less experienced, but 
not the less interested among the crew, hung about the rigging, 
whence they could overlook the scene, and fancy they beheld 
demonstrations that came of theories which it as much exceed- 
ed their reasoning powers to understand, as it exceeded their 
physical vision to behold the desired Indies themselves. As 
men become intellectual, they entertain abstractions, leaving 
the dominion of the senses to take refuge in that of thought.. 
Until this change arrives, however, we are all singularly in- 
fluenced by a parade of positive things. Words spoken seldom 
produce the effect of words written ; and the praise or censure 
that would enter lightly and unheeded into the ear, might even 
change our estimates of character, when received into the mind 
through the medium of the eye. Thus, the very seamen, who 
could not comprehend the reasoning of Columbus, fancied they 
understood his chart, and willingly enough believed that islands 
and continents must exist in the precise places where they saw 
them so plainly delineated. 

After this exhibition, cheerfulness resumed its sway over the 
crew of the Santa Maria ; and Sancho, who was generally con- 
sidered as of the party of the admiral, was eagerly appealed 
to by his fellows, for many of the little circumstances that 
were thought to explain the features of the chart. 

"Dost think, Sancho, that Cipango is as large as the admiral 
hath got the island on the chart V asked one who had passed 
from the verge of despair to the other extreme ; " that it lieth 
fairly, any aye may see, since its look is as natural as that of 
Ferro or Madeira." 

"That hath he," answered Sancho, positively, "as one may 
see by its shape. Didst not notice the capes, and bays, and 
head-lands, all laid down as plainly as on any other well- 
known coast ? Ah ! these Genoese are skilful navigators ; and 
Senor Colon, our noble admiral, hath not come all this dis- 



338 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

tance without having some notion in what roadstead he is to 
anchor." 

In such conclusive arguments, the dullest minds of the crew 
found exceeding consolation ; while among all the common 
people of the ship, there was not one who did not feel more 
confidence in the happy termination of the voyage, since he had 
this seeming ocular proof of the existence of land in the part of 
the ocean they were in. 

When the discourse between the admiral and Pinzon ceased, 
the latter made sail on the Pinta, which vessel had slowly 
passed the Santa Maria, and was now a hundred yards, or 
more, ahead of her ; neither going through the water at a rate 
exceeding a knot an hour. At the moment just mentioned, or 
while the men were conversing of their newly awakened hopes, 
a shout drew all eyes toward their consort, where Pinzon was 
seen on the poop, waving his cap in exultation, and giving the 
usual proofs of extravagant delight. 

" Land ! — Land! Senor !" he shouted. "I claim my re- 
ward ! Land ! Land !" 

" In what direction, good Martin Alonzo J" asked Columbus, 
so eagerly that his voice fairly trembled. "In which quarter 
dost thou perceive this welcome neighbor?" 

" Here, to the south-west," pointing in that direction — " a 
range of dim but noble mountains, and such as promise to satis- 
fy the pious longings of the Holy Father himself!" 

Every eye turned toward the south-west, and there, indeed, 
they fancied they beheld the long-sought proofs of their suc- 
cess. A faint, hazy mass was visible in the horizon, broken in 
outline, more distinctly marked than clouds usually are, and yet 
so obscure as to require a practised eye to draw it out of the 
obscurity of the void. This is the manner in which land often 
appears to seamen, in peculiar conditions of the atmosphere ; 
others, under such circumstances, being seldom able to distin- 
guish it at all. Columbus was so practised in all the phenomena 
of the ocean, that the face of every man in the Santa Maria was 
turned toward his, in breathless expectation of the result, as 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 339 

soon as the first glance had been given toward the point of the 
compass mentioned. It was impossible to mistake the expres- 
sion of the admiral's countenance, which immediately became 
radiant with delight and pious exultation. Uncovering himself, 
he cast a look upward in unbounded gratitude, and then fell on 
his knees, to return open thanks to God. This was the signal 
of triumph, and yet, in their desolate situation, exultation was 
not the prevalent feeling of the moment. Like Columbus, the 
men felt their absolute dependence on God ; and a sense of 
humble and rebuked gratitude came over every spirit, as it 
might be simultaneously. Kneeling, the entire crews of the 
three vessels simultaneously commenced the chant of " Gloria 
in excelsis Deo !" lifting the voice of praise, for the first time 
since the foundations of the earth were laid, in that deep soli- 
tude of the ocean. Matins and vespers, it is true, were then 
habitually repeated in most Christian ships ; but this sublime 
chant was now uttered to waves that had been praising their 
Maker, in their might and in their calm, for so many thousand 
years, for the first time in the voice of man. 

u Glory be to God on high!" sang these rude mariners, with 
hearts softened by their escapes, dangers, and success, speaking 
as one man, though modulating their tones to the solemn har- 
mony of a religious rite — " and on earth peace, good will to- 
ward men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we 
glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory ! Lord 
God! Heavenly King! God the Father Almighty /" &c., dtc. 

In this noble chant, which would seem to approach as near 
to the praises of angels as human powers can ever hope to rise, 
the voice of the admiral was distinct, and deep, but trembling 
with emotion. 

When this act of pious gratitude was performed, the men as- 
cended the rigging to make more certain of their success. All 
agreed in pronouncing the faintly delineated mass to be land, 
and the first sudden transport of unexpected joy was succeeded 
by the more regulated feelings of confirmed security. The sun 
set a little north of the dim mountains, and night closed around 



340 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

the scene, shadowing the ocean with as much gloom as is ever 
to be found beneath a tropical and cloudless sky. As the first 
watch was set, Columbus, who, whenever the winds would 
allow, had persevered in steering what he fancied to be a due- 
west course, to satisfy the longings of his people, ordered the 
vessels to haul up to south-west by compass, which was, in fact, 
heading south-west-by-south-southerly. The wind increased, 
and, as the admiral had supposed the land to be distant about 
twenty-five leagues, when last seen, all in the little fleet confi- 
dently relied on obtaining a full and complete view of it in the 
morning. Columbus himself entertained this hope, though he 
varied his course reluctantly, feeling certain that the continent 
would be met by sailing west, or wdiat he thought to be west, 
though he could have no similar confidence as to making any 
island. 

Few slept soundly that night — visions of oriental riches, and 
of the wonders of the East, crowding on the minds of even the 
least imaginative, converting their slumbers into dreams render- 
ed uneasy by longings for gold, and anticipations of the won- 
ders of the unknown East. The men left their hammocks, 
from hour to hour, to stand in the rigging, watching for some 
new proofs of their proximity to the much-desired islands, and 
straining their eyes in vain, in the hope of looking deeper into 
the obscurity in quest of objects that fancy had already begun 
to invest with forms. In the course of the night, the vessels 
ran in a direct line toward the south-west, seventeen of the 
twenty -five leagues that Columbus had supposed alone separated 
him from this new discovery ; and just before the light dawned, 
every soul in the three vessels was stirring, in the eager hope 
of having the panorama of day open on such a sight, as they 
felt it to be but a slight grievance to have come so far, and to 
have risked so much, to behold. 

" Yonder is a streak of light, glimmering in the east," cried 
Luis, in a cheerful voice ; " and now, Senor Almirante, we may 
unite in terming you the honored of the eaith !" 

" All rests with God, my young friend," returned Columbus ; 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 34l 

" whether land is near us or not, it boundeth the western ocean, 
and to that boundary we must proceed. Thou art right, truly, 
friend Gutierrez ; the light is beginning to shed itself along the 
eastern margin of the sea, and even to rise in an arch into the 
vault above it." 

" Would that the sun rose, for this one day, in the west, 
that we might catch the first glimpse of our new possessions in 
that radiant field of heaven, which his coming rays are so 
gloriously illuminating above the track we have just passed !" 

" That will not happen, Master Pedro, since Sol hath jour- 
neyed daily round this planet of ours, from east to west, since 
time began, and will so continue to journey until time shall 
cease. This is a fact on which our senses may be trusted, 
though they mislead us in so many other things." 

So reasoned Columbus, a man whose mind had out-stripped 
the age, in his favorite study, and who was usually so calm 
and philosophical ; simply because he reasoned in the fetters of 
habit and prejudice. The celebrated system of Ptolemy, that 
strange compound of truth and error, was the favorite astronom- 
ical law of the day. Copernicus, who was then but a mere 
youth, did not reduce the just conception of Pythagoras — just 
in outline, though fanciful in its connection with both cause 
and effect — to the precision of science for many years after the 
discovery of America ; and it is a strong proof of the dangers 
which attended the advancement of thought, that he was re- 
warded for this vast effort of human reason, by excommunica- 
tion from the church, the maledictions of which actually rested 
on his soul, if not on his body, until within a few years of the 
present moment ! This single circumstance will show the read- 
er how much our navigator had to overcome in achieving the 
great office he had assumed. 

But all this time, the day is dawning, and the light is begin- 
ning to diffuse itself over the entire panorama of ocean and sky. 
As means were afforded, each look eagerly took in the whole 
range of the western horizon, and a chill of disappointment 
settled on every heart, as suspicion gradually became confirm a- 
15 



342 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

tion, that no land was visible. The vessels had passed, in the 
night, those bounds of the visible horizon, where masses of 
clouds had settled ; and no one could any longer doubt that his 
senses had been deceived by some accidental peculiarity in the 
atmosphere. All eyes now turned again to the admiral, who, 
while he felt the disappointment in his inmost heart, main- 
tained a dignified calm that it was not easy to disturb. 

"These signs are not infrequent at sea, Senor," he said to 
those near him, speaking loud enough, nevertheless, to be heard 
by most of the crew, " though seldom as treacherous as they 
have now proved to be. All accustomed to the ocean have 
doubtless seen them often ; and as physical facts, they must be 
taken as counting neither for nor against us. As omens, each 
person will consider them as he putteth his trust in God, whose 
grace and mercy to us all, is yet, by a million of times, unre- 
quited ? and still would be, were we to sing Glory in excelsis, from 
morn till night, as long as breath lasted for the sacred office." 

"Still, our hope was so very strong, Don Christopher," ob- 
served one of the gentlemen, " that we find the disappointment 
hard to be borne. You speak of omens, Senor ; are there any 
physical signs of our being near the land of Cathay ?" 

" Omens come of God, if they come at all. They are a 
species of miracles preceding natural events, as real miracles 
surpass them. I think this expedition cometh of God ; and I 
see no irreverence in supposing that this late appearance of land 
may have been heaped along the horizon for an encouraging 
sign to persevere, and as a proof that our labors will be re- 
warded in the end. I cannot say, nevertheless, that any but 
natural means were used, for these deceptions are familiar to 
us mariners. " 

" I shall endeavor so to consider it, Senor Aimirante," grave- 
ly returned the other, and the conversation dropped. 

The non-appearance of the land, which had been so confi- 
dently hoped for, produced a deep gloom in the vessels, not- 
withstanding ; again changing the joy of their people into 
despondency. Columbus continued to steer due west by com- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 343 

pass, or west-by-south-southerly, in reality, until meridian, 
when, yielding to the burning wishes of those around him, he 
again altered his course to the south-west. This course was 
followed until the ships had gone far enough in that direction 
to leave no doubt that the people had been misled by clouds, 
the preceding evening. At night, when not the faintest hope 
remained, the vessels kept away due west again, running, in the 
course of the twenty-four hours, quite thirty-one leagues, which 
Avere recorded before the crew as twenty-four. 

For several succeeding days no material changes occurred. 
The wind continued favorable, though frequently so light as to 
urge the vessels very slowly ahead, reducing the day's progress 
sometimes to little more than fifty of our English miles. The 
sea was calm, and weeds were again met, though in much 
smaller quantities than before. September 29th, or the fourth 
day after Pinzon had called out "land," another frigate-bird 
was seen ; and as it was the prevalent notion among seamen that 
this bird never flew far from the shore, some faint hopes were 
momentarily revived by his passage. Two pelicans also ap- 
peared, and the air was so soft and balmy that Columbus de- 
clared nothing but nightingales were wanting, to render the 
nights as delicious as those of Andalusia. 

In this manner did birds come and go, exciting hopes that 
were doomed to be disappointed ; sometimes flying in numbers 
that would seem to forbid the idea that they could be straying 
on the waste of waters, without the certainty of their position. 
Again, too, the attention of the admiral and of the people, was 
drawn to the variation of the needle, all uniting in the opinion 
that the phenomenon was only to be explained by the move- 
ments of the star. At length the first day of October arrived, 
and the pilots of the admiral's vessel seriously set to work to 
ascertain the distance they had come. They had been misled, 
as well as the rest, by the management of Columbus, and they 
now approached the latter, as he stood at his usual post on the 
poop, in order to give the result of their calculations, with 
countenances that were faithful indexes of the concern they felt 



344 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" We are not less than five hundred and seventy-eight leagues 
T\est of Ferro, Senor Almirante," commenced one of the two ; 
•' a fearful distance to venture into the bosom of an unknown 
ocean !" 

" Thou say'st true, honest Bartolemeo," returned Columbus, 
calmly; " though the further we venture, the greater will be 
the honor. Thy reckoning is even short of the truth, since this 
of mine, which is no secret from our people, giveth even five 
hundred and eighty-four leagues, fully six more than thine. 
But, after all, this scarce equalleth a voyage from Lisbon to 
Guinea, and we are not men to be outdone by the seamen of 
Don John !" 

" Ah ! Senor Almirante, the Portuguese have their islands 
by the way, and the old world at their elbows ; while we, should 
this earth prove not to be really a sphere, are hourly sailing 
toward its verge, and are running into untried dangers !" 

" Go to, Bartolemeo ! thou talkest like a river-man who hath 
been blown outside his bar by a strong breeze from the land, 
and who fancieth his risks greater than man ever yet endured, 
because the water that wetteth his tongue is salt. Let the men 
see this reckoning, fearlessly ; and strive to be of cheer, lest we 
remember thy misgivings beneath the groves of Cathay." 

"The man is sorely beset with dread," coolly observed Luis, 
as the pilots descended from the poop with a lingering step and 
a heavy heart. "Even your six short leagues added to the 
weight on his spirit. Five hundred and seventy- eight were 
frightful, but five hundred and eighty-four became burdensome 
to his soul!" 

" What would he then have thought had he known the truth, 
of which, young count, even thou art ignorant ?" 

" I hope you do not distrust my nerves, Don Christopher, 
that this matter is kept a secret from me VI 

"I ought not, I do believe, Senor de Llera ; and yet one 
gets to be distrustful even of himself, when weighty concerns 
hang by a thread. Hast thou any real idea of the length of the 
road we have come ?" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 345 

" Not I, by St. Iago ! Seiior. It is enough for me that we 
are far from the Dona Mercedes, and a league more or less 
counts but little. Should your theory be true, and the earth 
prove to be round, I have the consolation of knowing that we 
shaL get back to Spain, in time, even by chasing the sun." 

" Still thou hast some general notion of our true distance 
from Ferro, knowing that each day it is lessened before the 
people." 

" To tell you the truth, Don Christopher, arithmetic and I 
have little feeling for each other. For the life of me, I never 
could tell the exact amount of my own revenues, in figures, 
though it might not be so difficult to come at their results, in 
another sense. If truth were said, however, I should think your 
five hundred and eighty leagues might fairly be set down at 
some six hundred and ten or twenty." 

" Add yet another hundred and thou wilt not be far from 
the fact. We are, at this moment, seven hundred and seven 
leagues from Ferro, and fast drawing near to the meridian 
of Cipango. In another glorious week, or ten days at most, 
I shall begin seriously to expect to see the continent of 
Asia!" 

" This is travelling faster than I had thought, Seiior," an- 
swered Luis, carelessly ; " but journey on ; one of your follow 
ers will not complain, though we circle the earth itself." 



246 MERCEDES OF CAST I LB. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

" Pronounce what sea, what shore is this ? 
The gulf, the rock of Salamis ?" 

Byeon. 

The adventurers had now been twenty-three days out of 
sight of land, all of which time, with the exception of a few 
very immaterial changes in the wind, and a day or two of 
calms, they had been steadily advancing toward the west, with 
a southern variation that ranged between a fourth of a point 
and a point and a quarter, though the latter fact was unknown 
to them. Their hopes had been so often raised to be disap- 
pointed, that a sort of settled gloom now began to prevail 
among the common men, which was only relieved by irregular 
and uncertain cries of " land," as the clouds produced their 
usual deceptions in the horizon. Still their feelings were in 
that feverish state which admits of any sudden change ; and as 
the sea continued smooth as a river, the air balmy, and the 
skies most genial, they were prevented from falling into de- 
spair. Sancho reasoned, as usual, among his fellows, resisting 
ignorance and folly, with impudence and dogmatism ; while 
Luis unconsciously produced an effect on the spirits of his asso- 
ciates by his cheerfulness and confidence. Columbus, himself, 
remained calm, dignified, and reserved, relying on the justice 
of his theories, and continuing resolute to attain his object. 
The wind remained fair, as before, and in the course of the 
night and day of the 2d of October, the vessels sailed more 
than a hundred miles still further into that unknown and mys- 
terious sea. The weeds now drifted westerly, which was a 
material change, the currents previously setting, in the main, in 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 347 

an opposite direction. The 3d proved even a still more favor* 
able day, the distance made reaching to forty-seven leagues. 
The admiral now began to think seriously that he had passed 
the islands laid down in his chart, and, with the high resolution 
of one sustained by grand conceptions, he decided to stand on 
wesj:, with the intention of reaching the shores of the Indies, at 
once. The 4th was a better day than either, the little fleet 
passing steadily ahead, without deviating from its course, until 
it had fairly made one hundred and eighty-nine miles, much the 
greatest day's work it had yet achieved. This distance, so 
formidable to men who began to count each hour and each 
league with uneasiness, was reckoned to all on board, but Luis, 
as only one hundred and thirty-eight miles. 

Friday, October 5th, commenced even more favorably, Co- 
lumbus finding his ship gliding though the water — there being 
no sea to cause her to reel and stagger — at the rate of about 
eight miles the hour, which was almost as fast as she had ever 
been known to go, and which would have caused this day's 
work to exceed the last, had not the wind failed in the night. 
As it was, however, fifty-seven more leagues were placed be- 
tween Ferro and the position of the vessel ; a distance that was 
reduced to forty-five, with the crew. The following day brought 
no material change, Providence appearing to urge them on at a 
speed that must soon solve the great problem which the ad- 
miral had been so long discussing with the learned. It was 
already dark, when the Pinta came sheering down upon the 
quarter of the Santa Maria, until she had got so near that her 
commander hailed without the aid of a trumpet. 

" Is Seiior Don Christopher at his post, as usual V hurriedly 
demanded Pinzon, speaking like one who felt he had matter of 
weight upon his mind : "I see persons on the poop, but know 
not if his Excellency be among them." 

" What wouldst thou, good Martin Alonzo VI answered the 
admiral : " I am here, watching for the shores of Cipango, or 
Cathay, whichever God, in his goodness, may be pleased first 
to give us." 



348 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

"I see so many reasons, noble admiral, for changing our 
course more to the south, that I could not resist the desire to 
come down and say as much. Most of the late discoveries have 
been made in the southern latitudes, and we might do well to 
get more southing." 

" Have we gained aught by changing our course in this di- 
rection ? Thy heart seemeth bent on more southern climes, 
worthy friend ; while to my feelings we are now in the very 
paradise of sweets, land only excepted. Islands may lie south, 
or even north of us ; but a continent must lie west. Why 
abandon a certainty for an uncertainty ? the greater for the less? 
Cipango, or Cathay, for some pleasant spot, fragrant with spices 
no doubt, but without a name, and which can never equal the 
glories of Asia, either as a discovery or as a conquest V 9 

" I would, Senor, I might prevail on you to steer more to 
the south !" 

"Go to, Martin Alonzo, and forget thy cravings. My heart 
is in the west, and thither reason teacheth me to follow it. 
First hear my orders, and then go seek the Nina, that thy 
brother, the worthy Vicente Yanez, may obey them also. 
Should aught separate us in the night, it shall be the duty of 
all to stand manfully toward the west, striving to find our com- 
pany ; for it would be a sad, as well as a useless thing, to be 
wandering alone in this unknown ocean." 

Pinzon, though evidently much displeased, was fain to obey, 
and after a short but a sharp and loud altercation with the ad- 
miral, the commander of the Pinta caused her to sheer toward 
the felucca to execute the order. 

" Martin Alonzo beginneth to waver," Columbus observed to 
Luis. " He is a bold and exceeding skilful mariner, but steadi- 
ness of object is not his greatest quality. He must be restrained 
from following the impulses of his weakness, by the higher hand 
of authority. Cathay ! — Cathay is my aim !" 

After midnight the wind increased, and for two hours the 
caravels glanced through the smooth ocean at their greatest 
speed, which equalled nine English miles the hour. Few now 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 349 

undressed, except to change their clothes ; and Columbus slum- 
bered on the poop that night, using an old sail for his couch. 
Luis was his companion, and both were up and on the deck 
with the first appearance of dawn. A common feeling seemed 
to exist among all, that land was near, and that a great discov- 
ery was about to be made. An annuity of ten thousand 
maravedis had been promised by the sovereigns to him who 
should first descry land, and every eye was on the gaze, when- 
ever opportunity permitted, to gain the prize. 

As the light diffused itself downward toward the margin of 
the ocean, in the western horizon, all thought there was the 
appearance of land, and sail was eagerly crowded on the dif- 
ferent vessels, in order to press forward as fast as possible, that 
their respective crews might enjoy the earliest and the best 
chances of obtaining the first view. In this respect, circum- 
stances singularly balanced the advantages and disadvantages 
between the competitors. The Nina was the fastest vessel in 
light airs and smooth water, but she was -also the smallest. Th6 
Pinta came next in general speed, holding a middle place in 
size, and beating her consorts with a fresh breeze ; while the 
Santa Maria, the last in point of sailing, had the highest masts, 
and consequently swept the widest range of horizon. 

"There is a good feeling uppermost to-day, Seiior Don 
Christopher, " said Luis, as he stood at the admiral's side, 
watching the advance of the light; " and if eyes can do it, we 
may hope for the discovery of land. The late run hath awaken- 
ed all our hopes, and land we must have, even if we raise it 
from the bottom of the ocean." 

" Yonder is Pepe, the dutiful husband of Monica, perched on 
our highest yard, straining his eyes toward the west, in th<s 
hope of gaining the reward L" said Columbus, smiling. " Ten 
thousand maravedis, yearly, would, in sooth, be some atone- 
ment to carry back to the grieved mother and the deserted 
boy !" 

" Martin Alonzo is in earnest, also, Senor. See how ho 
presseth forward in the Pinta; but Vicente Yanez hath the 



o50 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

heels of him, and is determined to make his salutations first to 
the Great Khan, neglectful of the elder brother's rights." 

" Senor ! — Seiiores !" shouted Sancho from the spar on 
which he was seated as composedly as a modern lady would 
recline on her ottoman — " the felucca is speaking in signals." 

" This is true," cried Columbus — " Vicente Yanez showeth 
the colors of the queen, and there goeth a lombarda to an- 
nounce some great event !" 

As these were the signals directed in the event that either 
vessel should discover land before her consorts, little doubt was 
entertained that the leading caravel had, at last, really an- 
nounced the final success of the expedition. Still the recent 
and grave disappointment was remembered, and, though all 
devoutly poured out their gratitude in mental offerings, their 
lips were sealed until the result should show the truth. Every 
rag of canvas was set, however, and the vessels seemed to hasten 
their speed toward the west, like birds tired with an unusual 
flight, which make new efforts with their wearied wings as the 
prospect of alighting suddenly breaks on their keen vision and 
active instincts. 

Hour passed after hour, however, and brought no confirma- 
tion of the blessed tidings. The western horizon looked heavy 
and clouded throughout the morning, it is true, often deceiving 
even the most practised eyes ; but as the day advanced, and 
the vessels had passed more than fifty miles further toward the 
west, it became impossible to ascribe the hopes of the morning 
to another optical illusion. The depression of spirits that suc- 
ceeded this new disappointment was greater than any that had 
before existed, and the murmurs that arose were neither equivo- 
cal nor suppressed. It was urged that some malign influence 
was leading the adventurers on, finally to abandon them to de- 
spair and destruction, in a wilderness of waters. This is the 
moment when, it has been said, Columbus was compelled to 
make conditions with his followers, stipulating to abandon the 
enterprise altogether, should it fail of success in a given number 
of days. But this weakness has been falsely ascribed to the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 351 

great navigator, who never lost the fullest exercise of his au- 
thority, even in the darkest moments of doubt ; maintaining his 
purpose, and asserting his power, with the same steadiness and 
calmness, in what some thought this distant verge of the earth, 
as he had done in the rivers of Spain. Prudence and policy at 
last dictated a change of course, however, which he was neither 
too obstinate nor too proud to submit to, and he accordingly 
adopted it of his own accord. 

" We are now quite a thousand leagues from Ferro, by my 
private reckoning, friend Luis," said Columbus to his young 
companion, in one of their private conferences, which took 
place after nightfall, "and it is really time to expect the conti- 
nent of Asia. Hitherto I have looked for naught but islands, 
and not with much expectation of seeing even them, though 
Martin Alonzo and the pilots have been so sanguine in their 
hopes. The large flocks of birds, however, that have appeared 
to-day, would seem to invite us to follow their flights — land, 
out of doubt, being their aim. I shall accordingly change our 
course more to the south, though not as far as Pinzon desireth, 
Cathay being still my goal." 

Columbus gave the necessary orders, and the two other cara- 
vels were brought within hail of the Santa Maria, when their 
commanders were directed to steer west- south-west. The reason 
for this change was the fact that so many birds had been seen 
flying in that direction. The intention of the admiral was to 
pursue this course for two days. Notwithstanding this altera- 
tion, no land was visible in the morning ; but, as the wind was 
light, and the vessels had only made five leagues since the course 
was changed, the disappointment produced less despondency 
than usual. In spite of their uncertainty, all in the vessels now 
rioted in the balmy softness of the atmosphere, which was found 
so fragrant that it was delicious to breathe it. The weeds, too, 
became more plenty, and many of them were as fresh as if torn 
from their native rocks only a day or two previously. Birds, 
that unequivocally belonged to the land, were also seen in con- 
siderable numbers, one of which was actually taken ; while 



Zb2 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



ducks abounded, and another pelican was met. Thus passed 
the 8th of October, the adventurers filled with hope, though the 
vessels only increased their distance from Europe some forty 
miles in the course of the twenty-four hours. The succeeding 
day brought no other material change than a shift of wind, 
which compelled the admiral to alter his course to west- by-north, 
for a few hours. This caused him some uneasiness, for it was 
his wish to proceed due west, or west-southerly ; though it 
afforded considerable relief to many among his people, who had 
been terrified by the prevalence of the winds in one direction. 
Had the variation still existed, this would have been, in fact, 
steering the very course the admiral desired to go ; but by this 
time, the vessels were in a latitude and longitude where the 
needle resumed its powers and became faithful to its direction. 
In the course of the night, the trades also resumed their influ- 
ence; and early on the morning of the 10th, the vessels again 
headed toward the west-south-west, by compass, which was, in 
truth, the real course, or as near to it as might be. 

Such was the state of things when the sun rose on the morn- 
ing of the 10th October, 1492. The wind had freshened, and 
all three of the vessels were running free the whole day, at a 
rate varying from five knots to nine. The signs of the proximity 
of land had been so very numerous of late, that, at every league 
of ocean they passed over, the adventurers had the strongest ex- 
pectations of discovering it, and nearly every eye in all three of 
the ships was kept constantly bent on the western horizon, in the 
hope of its owner's being the first to make the joyful announce- 
ment of its appearance. The cry of "land" had been so 
frequent of late, however, that Columbus caused it to be made 
known that he who again uttered it causelessly, should lose the 
reward promised by the sovereigns, even should he happen to 
be successful in the end. This information induced more cau- 
tion, and not a tongue betrayed its master's eagerness on this 
all-engrossing subject, throughout the anxious and exciting days 
of the 8th, 9th, and 10th October. But, their progress in the 
course of the 10th exceeding that made in the course of both 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 353 

the other days, the evening sky was watched with a vigilance 
even surpasssing that which had attended any previous sunset. 
This was the moment most favorable for examining the western 
horizon, the receding light illuminating the whole watery expanse 
in that direction, in a way to give up all its secrets to the eye. 

" Is that a hummock of land f ' asked Pepe of Sancho, in a 
low voice, as they lay together on a yard, watching the upper 
limb of the sun, as it settled, like a glimmering star, beneath 
the margin of the ocean ; " or is it some of this misguiding va- 
por that hath so often misled us of late ?" 

" 'Tis neither, Pepe," returned the more cool and experienced 
Sancho ; " but a rise of the sea, which is ever thus tossing itself 
upward on the margin of the ocean. Didst ever see a calm so 
profound, that the water left a straight circle on the horizon ? 
No — no — there is no land to be seen in the west to-night ; the 
ocean, in that quarter, looking as blank as if we stood on the 
western shore of Ferro, and gazed outward into the broad 
fields of the Atlantic. Our noble admiral may have the truth 
of his side, Pepe ; but, as yet, he hath no other evidence of it 
than is to be found in his reasons." 

" And dost thou, too, take sides against him, Sancho, and say 
that he is a madman who is willing to lead others to destruc- 
tion, as well as himself, so that he die an admiral in fact, and a 
viceroy in fancy !" 

" I take sides against no man whose doblas take sides with 
me, Pepe ; for that would be quarrelling with the best friend 
that both the rich and poor can make, which is gold. Don 
Christopher is doubtless very learned, and one thing hath he 
settled to my satisfaction, even though neither he nor any of us 
ever see a single jewel of Cathay, or pluck a hair from the 
beard of the Great Khan, and that is, that this world is round ; 
had it been a plain, all this water would not be placed at the outer 
side, since it would clearly run off, unless dammed up by land. 
Thou canst conceive that, Pepe ?" 

" That do I ; it is reasonable and according to every man's 
experience. Monica thinketh the Genoese a saint !" 



354 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Harkee, Pepe ; thy Monica is no doubt an uncommonly 
sensible woman, else would she never have taken thee for a 
husband, when she might have chosen among a dozen of thy 
fellows. I once thought of the girl myself, and might have 
told her so, had she seen fit to call me a saint, too, which she 
did not, seeing that she used a very different epithet. But, 
admitting the Senor Colon to be a saint, he would be none the 
better admired for it, inasmuch as I never yet met with a 
saint, or even with a virgin, that could understand the bear- 
ings and distances of a run as short as that from Cadiz to Bar- 
celona." 

"Thou speakest irreverently, Sancho, of virgins and saints, 
seeing that they know every thing" — 

" Ay, every thing but that. Our Lady of Rabida does not 
know south-east~and T by-southe-half-southe, from north-west- 
and-by-noathe-half-noathe. I have tried her, in this matter, 
and I tell thee she is as ignorant of it as thy Monica is igno- 
rant of the manner in which the Duchess of Medina Sidonia 
saluteth the noble duke, her husband, when he returneth from 
hawking." 

" I dare say the duchess would not know, either, what to say, 
were she in Monica's place, and were she called on to receive 
me, as Monica will be, when we return from this great expedi- 
tion. If I have never hawked, neither hath the duke ever sailed 
for two-and-thirty days, in a west course from Ferro, and this, 
too, without once seeing land I" 

"Thou say'st true, Pepe; nor hast thou ever yet done this 
and returned to Palos. But what meaneth all this movement 
on deck ? Our people seem to be much moved by some feel- 
ing, while I can swear it is not from having discovered Cathay, 
or from having seen the Great Khan, shining like a carbuncle, 
on his throne of diamonds." 

"It is rather that they do not see him thus, that the men are 
moved. Dost not hear angry and threatening words from the 
mouths of the troublesome ones ?" 

" By San Iago ! were I Don Christopher, but I would deduct 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 355 

a dobla from the wages of each of the rascals, and give the 
gold to such peaceable men as you and me, Pepe, who are 
willing to starve to death, ere we will go back without a sight 
of Asia." 

" 'Tis something of this sort, of a truth, Sancho. Let us 
descend, that his Excellency may see that he hath some friends 
among the crew." 

As Sancho assented to this proposition, he and Pepe stood 
on the deck in the next minute. Here, indeed, the people 
were found in a more mutinous state than they had been since 
the fleet left Spain. The long continuation of fair winds, and 
pleasant weather, had given them so much reason to expect a 
speedy termination of their voyage, that nearly the whole crew 
were now of opinion it was due to themselves to insist on the 
abandonment of an expedition that seemed destined to lead to 
nothing but destruction. The discussion was loud and angry, 
even one or two of the pilots inclining to think, with their in- 
feriors, that further perseverance would certainly be useless, 
and might be fatal. When Sancho and Pepe joined the 
crowd, it had just been determined to go in a body to Colum- 
bus, and to demand, in terms that could not be misconceived, 
the immediate return of the ships to Spain. In order that this 
might be done with method, Pedro Alonzo Mno, one of the 
pilots, and an aged seaman called Juan Martin, were selected as 
spokesmen. At this critical moment, too, the admiral and Luis 
were seen descending from the poop, with an intent to retire to 
their cabin, when a rush was made aft, by all on deck, and 
twenty voices were heard simultaneously crying — 

"Senor — Don Christopher — Your Excellency — Senor Almi- 
rante !" 

Columbus stopped, and faced the people with a calmness 
and dignity that caused the heart of Nino to leap toward his 
mouth, and which materially checked the ardor of most of his 
followers. 

" What would ye V demanded the admiral, sternly. " Speak' 
Ye address a friend." 



356 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" We come to ask our precious lives, Senor," answered Juan 
Martin, who thought his insignificance might prove a shield — 
" nay, what is more, the means of putting bread into. the mouths 
of our wives and children. All here are weary of this profitless 
voyage, and most think if it last any longer than shall be neces- 
sary to return, it will be the means of our perishing of want." 

" Know ye the distance that lieth between us and Ferro, 
that ye come to me with this blind and foolish request ? Speak, 
Nino ; I see that thou art also of their number, notwithstand- 
ing thy hesitation." 

" Senor," returned the pilot, " we are all of a mind. To 
go further into this blank and unknown ocean, is tempting God 
to destroy us, for our wilfulness. It is vain to suppose that this 
broad belt of water hath been placed by Providence around 
the habitable earth for any other purpose than to rebuke those 
who audaciously seek to be admitted to mysteries beyond their 
understanding. Do not all the churchmen, Seiior — the pious 
prior of Santa Maria de Rabida, your own particular friend, 
included — tell us constantly of the necessity of submitting to a 
knowledge we can never equal, and to believe without striving 
to lift a veil that covers incomprehensible things ?" 

" I might retort on thee, honest Nino, with thine own 
words," answered Columbus, "and bid thee confide in those 
whose knowledge thou canst never equal, and to follow sub- 
missively where thou art totally unfitted to lead. Go to ; with- 
draw with thy fellows, and let rne hear no more of this." 

" Nay, Seiior," cried two or three in a breath, " we cannot 
perish without making our complaints heard. We have followed 
too far already, and, even now, may have gone beyond the 
means of a safe return. Let us, then, turn the heads of the cara 
vels toward Spain, this night, lest we never live to see that 
blessed country again." 

" This toucheth on revolt ! Who among ye dare use lan- 
guage so bold, to your admiral J" 

" All of us, Senor," answered twenty voices together. " Men 
need be bold, when their lives would be forfeited by silence." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 357 

" Sancho, art thou, too, of the party of these mutineers ? 
Dost thou confess thy heart to be Spain-sick, and thy unmanly 
fears to be stronger than thy hopes of imperishable glory and 
thy longings for the riches and pleasures of Cathay f" 

" If I do, Senor Don Almirante, set me to greasing masts, 
and take me from the helm, forever, as one unfit to watch the 
whirlings of the north star. Sail with the caravels, into the 
hall of the Great Khan, and make fast to his throne, and you 
will find Sancho at his post, whether it be at the helm or at 
the lead. He was born in a ship-yard, and hath a natural de- 
sire to know what a ship can do." 

" And thou, Pepe ? Hast thou so forgotten thy duty as to 
come with this language to thy commander ? to the admiral 
and viceroy of thy sovereign, the Dona Isabella ?" 

" Viceroy over what?" exclaimed a voice from the crowd, 
without permitting Pepe to answer. "A viceroy over sea- 
weed, and one that hath tunny-fish, and whales, and pelicans, 
for subjects ! We tell you, Senor Colon, that this is no treat- 
ment for Castilians, who require more substantial discoveries 
than fields of weeds, and islands of clouds !" 

" Home !— Home ! — Spain ! — Spain ! — Palos ! — Palos !" 
cried nearly all together, Sancho and Pepe having quitted the 
throng and ranged themselves at the side of Columbus. " We 
will *no further west, which is tempting God ; but demand to 
be carried back whence we came, if, indeed, it be not already 
too late for so happy a deliverance." 

"To whom speak ye in" this shameless manner, graceless 
knaves?" exclaimed Luis, unconsciously laying a hand where it 
had been his practice to carry a rapier. "Get ye gone, or" — 

" Be tranquil, friend Pedro, and leave this matter with me," 
interrupted the admiral, whose composure had scarce been de- 
ranged by the violent conduct of his subordinates. " Listen to 
what I have to say, ye rude and rebellious men, and let it be 
received as my final answer to any and all such demands as ye 
have just dared to make. This expedition hath been sent forth 
by the two sovereigns, your royal master and mistress, with the 



358 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

express design of crossing the entire breadth of the vast Atlan- 
tic, until it might reach the shores of India. Now, let what 
will happen, these high expectations shall not be disappointed ; 
but westward we sail, until stopped by the land. For this de- 
termination, my life shall answer. Look to it, that none of 
yours be endangered by resistance to the royal orders, or by 
disrespect and disobedience to their appointed substitute ; for, 
another murmur, and I mark the man that uttereth it, for signal 
punishment. In this ye have my full determination, and beware 
of encountering the anger of those whose displeasure may prove 
more fatal than these fancied dangers of the ocean. 

" Look at what ye have before you, in the way of fear, and 
then at what ye have before ye, in the way of hope. In the 
first case, ye have every thing to dread from the sovereigns' 
anger, should ye proceed to a violent resistance of their author- 
ity ; or, what is as bad, something like a certainty of your being 
unable to reach Spain, for want of food and water, should ye 
revolt against your lawful leaders and endeavor to return. For 
this, it is now too late. The voyage east must, as regards time, 
be double that we have just made, and the caravels are begin- 
ning to be lightened in their casks. Land, and land in this re- 
gion, hath become necessary to us. Now look at the other side 
of the picture. Before ye, lieth Cathay, with all its riches, its 
novelties, and its glories ! A region more wonderful than anyihat 
hath yet been inhabited by man, and occupied by a race as 
gentle as they are hospitable and just. To this must be added 
the approbation of the sovereigns, and the credit that will be- 
long to the meanest mariner that hath manfully stood by his 
commander in achieving so great an end." 

" If we will obey three days longer, Senor, will you then turn 
toward Spain, should no land be seen ?" cried a voice from the 
crowd. 

"Never," returned Columbus, firmly. "To India am I 
bound, and for India will I steer, though another month be 
needed to complete the journey. Go, then, to your posts or your 
hammocks, and let me hear no more of this." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 359 

There was so much natural dignity in the manner of Colum- 
bus, and when he spoke in anger, his voice carried so much of 
rebuke with it, that it exceeded the daring of ordinary men to 
presume to answer when he commanded silence. The people 
sullenly dispersed, therefore, though the disaffection was by no 
means appeased. Had there been only a single vessel in the 
expedition, it is quite probable that they would have proceeded 
to some act of violence ; but, uncertain of the state of feeling in 
the Pinta and the Nina, and holding Martin Alonzo Pinzon in 
as much habitual respect as they stood in awe of Columbus, the 
boldest among them were, for the present, fain to give vent to 
their dissatisfaction in murmurs, though they secretly meditated 
decided measures, as soon as an opportunity for consultation 
and concert with the crews of the other vessels might offer. 

"This looketh serious, Senor," said Luis, as soon as he and 
the admiral were alone again in their little cabin, " and, by St. 
Luke ! it might cool the ardor of these knaves, did your Ex- 
cellency suffer me to cast two or three of the most insolent of 
the vagabonds into the sea." 

" Which is a favor that some among them have actually con- 
templated conferring upon thee and me," answered Columbus. 
" Sancho keepeth me well informed of the feeling among the peo- 
ple, and it is now many days since he hath let me know this fact. 
We will proceed peaceably, if possible, Senor Gutierrez, or de Mu- 
nos, whichever name thou most affectest, as long as we can ; but 
should there truly arise an occasion to resort to force, thou wilt 
find that Christofero Columbo knoweth how to wield a sword 
as well as he knoweth how to use his instruments of science." 

" How far do you really think us from land, Senor Almir- 
ante ? I ask from curiosity, and not from dread ; for though 
the ship floated on the very verge of the earth, ready to fall off 
into vacuum, you should hear no murmur from me." 

"lam well assured of this, young noble," returned Colum- 
bus, affectionately squeezing the hand of Luis, " else wouldst 
thou not be here. I make our distance from Ferro exceed a 
thousand marine leagues ; this is about the same as that at 



360 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

which I have supposed Cathay to lie from Europe, and it is, out 
of question, sufficiently far to meet with many of the islands that 
are known to abound in the seas of Asia. The public reckoning 
maketh the distance a little more than eight hundred leagues ; 
but, in consequence of the favorable currents of which we have 
lately had so much, I doubt if we are not fully eleven hundred 
from the Canaries, at this moment, if not even further. "We are 
doubtless a trifle nearer to the Azores, which are situated further 
west, though in a higher latitude." 

" Then you think, Seiior, that we may really expect land, ere 
many days ?" 

" So certain do I feel of this, Luis, that I should have little 
apprehension of complying with the terms of these audacious 
men, but for the humiliation. Ptolemy divided the earth into 
twenty-four hours, of fifteen degrees each, and I place but some 
five or six of these hours in the Atlantic. Thirteen hundred 
leagues, I feel persuaded, will bring us to the shores of Asia, 
and eleven of these thirteen hundred leagues do I believe we 
have come." 

" To-morrow may then prove an eventful day, Senor Al- 
mirante ; and now to our cots, where I shall dream of a fairer 
land than Christian eye ever yet looked upon, with the fairest 
maiden of Spain — nay, by San Pedro ! of Europe — beckoning 
me on !" 

Columbus and Luis now sought their rest. In the morning, 
it was evident by the surly looks of the people, that feelings 
like a suppressed volcano were burning in their bosoms, and 
that any untoward accident might produce an eruption. For- 
tunately, however, signs, of a nature so novel, soon appeared, 
as to draw off the attention of the most disaffected from their 
melancholy broodings. The wind was fresh, as usual fair, and, 
what was really a novelty since quitting Ferro, the sea had. got 
up, and the vessels were riding over waves which removed that 
appearance of an unnatural calm that had hitherto alarmed the 
men with its long continuance. Columbus had not been on 
deck five minutes, when a joyful cry from Pepe drew all eyes 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 361 

toward the yard on which he was at work. The seaman was 
pointing eagerly at some object in the water, and rushing to the 
side of the vessel, all saw the welcome sign that had caught his 
gaze. As the ship lifted on a sea, and shot ahead, a rush of a 
bright fresh green was passed, and the men gave a loud shout, 
for all well knew that this plant certainly came from some 
shore, and that it could not have been long torn from the spot 
of its growth. 

" This is truly a blessed omen !" said Columbus ; " rushes 
cannot grow without the light of heaven, whatever may be the 
case with weeds." 

This little occurrence changed, or at least checked, the feel- 
ings of the disaffected. Hope once more resumed its sway, 
and all who could, ascended the rigging to watch the western 
horizon. The rapid motion of the vessels, too, added to this 
buoyancy of feeling, the Pinta and Nina passing and repassing 
the admiral, as it might be in pure wantonness. A few hours 
later, fresh weeds were met, and about noon Sancho announced 
confidently that he had seen a fish which is known to live in 
the vicinity of rocks. An hour later, the Nina came sheering 
up toward the admiral, with her commander in the rigging, 
evidently desirous of communicating some tidings of moment. 

" What now, good Vicente Yanez?" called out Columbus ; 
" thou seemest the messenger of welcome news !" 

" I think myself such, Don Christopher," answered the 
other. " We have just passed a bush bearing roseberries, 
quite newly torn from the tree ! This is a sign that cannot 
deceive us." 

" Thou say'st true, my friend. To the west ! — to the west ! 
Happy will he be whose eyes first behold the wonders of the 
Indies I" 

It would not be easy to describe the degree of hope and 
exultation that now began to show itself among the people. 
Good-natured jests flew about the decks, and the laugh was 
easily raised where so lately all had been despondency and 
gloom. The minutes flew swiftly by, and every man had 



362 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

ceased to think of Spain, bending his thoughts again on the as 
yet unseen west. 

A little later, a cry of exultation was heard from the Pinta, 
which was a short distance to windward and ahead of the ad- 
miral. As this vessel shortened sail and hove-to, lowering a 
boat, and then immediately kept away, the Santa Maiia soon 
came foaming up under her quarter, and spoke her. 

" What now, Martin Alonzo ?" asked Columbus, suppressing 
his anxiety in an appearance of calmness and dignity. " Thou 
and thy people seem in an ecstasy !" 

" Well may we be so ! About an hour since, we passed a 
piece of the cane-plant, of the sort of which sugar is made in 
the East, as travellers say, and such as we often see in our own 
ports. But this is a trifling symptom of land compared to the 
trunk of a tree that we have also passed. As if Providence had 
not yet dealt with us with sufficient kindness, all these articles 
were met floating near each other ; and we have thought them 
of sufficient value to lower a boat, that we might possess 
them." 

" Lay thy sails to the mast, good Martin Alonzo, and send 
thy prizes hither, that I may judge of their value." 

Pinzon complied, and the Santa Maria being hove-to, at the 
same time, the boat soon touched her side. Martin Alonzo 
made but one bound from the thwart to the gunwale of the 
ship, and was soon on the deck of the admiral. Here he 
eagerly displayed the different articles that his men tossed after 
him, all of which had been taken out of the sea, not an hour 
before. 

" See, noble Senores," said Martin Alonzo, almost breath- 
less with haste to display his treasures — " this is a sort of board, 
though of unknown wood, and fashioned with exceeding care : 
here is also another piece of cane : this is a plant that surely 
cometh from the land ; and most of all, this is a walking-stick, 
fashioned by the hand of man, and that, too, with exceeding 
care !" 

" All this is true," said Columbus, examining the different 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 363 

articles, one by one ; " God, in his might and power, be praised 
for these comfortable evidences of our near approach to a new 
world ! None but a malignant Infidel can now doubt of our 
final success." 

" These things have questionless come from some boat that 
hath been upset, which will account for their being so near 
each other in the water," said Martin Alonzo, willing to sustain 
his physical proofs by a plausible theory. " It would not be 
wonderful were drowned bodies near." 

" Let us hope not, Martin Alonzo," answered the admiral; 
" let us fancy naught so melancholy. A thousand accidents may 
have thrown these articles together, into the sea; and once 
there, they would float in company for a twelvemonth, unless 
violently separated. But come they whence they may, to us, 
they are infallible proofs that not only land is near, but lai d 
which is the abiding-place of mien." 

It is not easy to describe the enthusiasm that now prevailed 
in all the vessels. Hitherto they had met with only birds, and 
fishes, and weeds, signs that are often precarious ; but here was 
such proof of their being in the neighborhood of their fellow- 
creatures, as it was not easy to withstand. It was true, articles 
of this nature might drift, in time, even across the vast distance 
they had come ; but it was not probable that they would drift 
so far in company. Then, the berries were fresh, the board 
was of an unknown wood, and the walking-stick, in particular, 
if such indeed was its use, was carved in a manner that was 
never practised in Europe. The different articles passed from 
hand to hand, until all in the ship had examined them ; and 
every thing like doubt vanished before this unlooked-for confir- 
mation of the admiral's predictions. Pinzon returned to his 
vessel, sail was again made, and the fleet continued to steer to 
the west-south-west, until the hour of sunset. 

Something like a chill of disappointment again came over the 
more faint-hearted of the people, however, as they once more, 
or for the thirty-fourth time since quitting Gomera, saw the 
sun sink behind a watery horizon. More than a hundred vigi- 



864 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

lant eyes watched the glowing margin of the ocean, at this in- 
teresting moment, and though the heavens were cloudless, naught 
was visible but the gloriously tinted vault, and the outline of wa- 
ter, broken into the usual ragged forms of the unquiet element. 

The wind freshened as evening closed, and Columbus having 
called his vessels together, as was usual with him at that hour, 
he issued new orders concerning the course. For the last two 
or three days they had been steeling materially to the southward 
of west, and Columbus, who felt persuaded that his most cer- 
tain and his nearest direction from land to land, was to traverse 
the ocean, if possible, on a single parallel of latitude, was anx- 
ious to resume his favorite course, which was what he fancied 
to be due west. Just as night drew around the mariners, ac- 
cordingly, the ships edged away to the required course, and ran 
off at the rate of nine miles the hour, following the orb of day 
as if resolute to penetrate into the mysteries of his nightly re- 
treat, until some great discovery should reward the effort. 

Immediately after this change in the course, the people sang 
the vesper hymn, as usual, which, in that mild sea, they often 
deferred until the hour when the watch below sought their ham- 
mocks. That night, however, none felt disposed to sleep ; and 
it was late when the chant of the seamen commenced, with the 
words of "Salve fac ReginaP It was a solemn thing to hear 
the songs of religious praise mingling with the sighings of the 
breeze and the wash of the waters, in that ocean solitude ; and 
the solemnity was increased by the expectations of the adven- 
turers and the mysteries that lay behind the curtain they be- 
lieved themselves about to raise. Never before had this hymn 
sounded so sweetly in the ears of Columbus, and Luis found his 
eyes suffusing with tears, as he recalled the soft thrilling notes 
of Mercedes' voice, in her holy breathings of praise at this 
hour. When the office ended, the admiral called the crew to 
the quarter-deck, and addressed them earnestly from his station 
on the poop. 

"I rejoice, my friends," he said, "that you have had the 
grace to chant the vesper hymn in so devout a spirit, at a mo- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 365 

ment when there is so much reason to be grateful to God for his 
goodness to us throughout this voyage. Look back at the past 
and see if one of you, the oldest sailor of your number, can 
recall any passage at sea, I will not say of equal length, for that 
no one here hath ever before made, but any equal number of 
days at sea, in which the winds have been as fair, the weather 
is propitious, or the ocean as calm, as on this occasion. Then 
what cheering signs have encouraged us to persevere ! God is 
in the midst of the ocean, my friends, as well as in his sanctua- 
ries of the land. Step by step, as it were, hath he led us on, 
now filling the air with birds, now causing the sea to abound 
with unusual fishes, and then spreading before us fields of plants, 
such as are seldom met far from the rocks where they grew. 
The last and best of his signs hath he given us this day. My 
own calculations are in unison with these proofs, and I deem it 
probable that we reach the land this very night. In a few hours, 
or when we shall have run the distance commanded by the eye, 
as the light left us, I shall deem it prudent to shorten sail ; and 
I call on all of you to be watchful, lest we unwittingly throw 
ourselves on the strange shores. Ye know that the sovereigns 
have graciously promised ten thousand maravedis, yearly, and 
for life, to him who shall first discover land : to this rich reward 
I will add a doublet of velvet, such as it w r ould befit a grandee 
to wear. Sleep not, then ; but, at the turn of the night, be all 
vigilance and watchfulness. I am now most serious with ye, 
and look for land this very blessed night." 

These encouraging words produced their full effect, the men 
scattering themselves in the ship, each taking the best position 
he could, to earn the coveted prizes. Deep expectation is al- 
ways a quiet feeling, the jealous senses seeming to require si- 
lence and intensity of concentration, in order to give them their 
full exercise. Columbus remained on the poop, while Luis, less 
interested, threw himself on a sail, and passed the time in mus- 
ing on Mercedes, and in picturing to himself the joyful moment 
when he might meet her again, a triumphant and successful ad- 
venturer. 

16 



380 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

The deatli-like silence that prevailed in the ship, added to 
the absorbing interest of that important night. At the distance 
of a mile was the little Nina, gliding on her course with a full 
sail ; while half a league still further in advance, was to be seen 
the shadowy outline of the Pinta, which preceded her consorts, 
as the swiftest sailer with a fresh breeze. Sancho had been 
round to every sheet and brace, in person, and never before had 
the admiral's ship held as good way with her consorts as on that 
night, all three of the vessels appearing to have caught the 
eager spirit of those they contained, and to be anxious to outdo 
themselves. At moments the men started, while the wind mur- 
mured through the cordage, as if they heard unknown and 
strange voices from a mysterious world ; and fifty times, when 
the waves combed upon the sides of the ship, did they turn 
their heads, expecting to see a crowd of unknown beings, fresh 
from the eastern world, pouring in upon their decks. 

As for Columbus, he sighed often ; for minutes at a time 
would he stand looking intently toward the west, like one who 
strove to penetrate the gloom of night, with organs exceeding 
human powers. At length he bent his body forward, gazed in- 
tently over the weather railing of the ship, and then, lifting his 
cap, he seemed to be offering up his spirit in thanksgiving or 
prayer. All this Luis witnessed where he lay : at the next in- 
stant he heard himself called. 

" Pero Gutierrez— Pedro de Munos — Luis — whatever thou 
art termed," said Columbus, his fine masculine voice trembling 
with eagerness — " come hither, son ; tell me if thine eyes ac- 
cord with mine. Look in this direction — here, more on the 
vessel's beam ; seest thou aught uncommon ?" 

u I saw a light, Senor ; one that resembled a candle, being 
neither larger nor more brilliant ; and to me it appeared to 
move, as if carried in the hand, or tossed by waves." 

" Thy eyes did not deceive thee ; thou seest it doth not come 
of either of our consorts, both of which arc here on the bow." 

" What do you, then, take this light to signify, Don Chris- 
topher?" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 367 

" Land ! It is either on the land itself, rendered small by 
distance, or it cometh of some vessel that is a stranger to uo, 
and which belongeth to the Indies. There is Rodrigo Sanchez 
of Segovia, the comptroller of the fleet, beneath us ; descend, 
and bid him come hither." 

Luis did as required, and presently the comptroller was also 
at the admiral's side. Half an hour passed, and the light was 
not seen again ; then it gleamed upward once or twice, like a 
torch, and finally disappeared. This circumstance was soon 
known to all in the ship, though few attached the same impor- 
tance to it as Columbus himself. 

"This is land," quietly observed the admiral, to those near 
his person : u ere many hours we may expect to behold it. 
Now ye may pour out your souls in gratitude and confidence, 
for in such a sign there can be no deception. No phenomenon 
of the ocean resembleth that light ; and my reckoning placeth 
us in a quarter of the world where land must exist, else is the 
earth no sphere." 

Notwithstanding this great confidence on the part of the ad- 
miral, most of those in the ship did not yet feel the same cer- 
tainty in the result, although all felt the strongest hopes of fall- 
ing in with land next day. Columbus saying no more on the 
subject, the former silence was soon resumed, and, in a few 
minutes, every eye was again turned toward the west, in anxious 
watchfulness. In this manner the time passed away, the ships 
driving ahead with a speed much exceeding that of their ordi- 
nary rate of sailing, until the night had turned, when its dark- 
ness was suddenly illuminated by a blaze of light, and the re- 
port of a gun from the Pinta came struggling up against the 
fresh breeze of the trades. 

"There speaketh Martin Alonzo !" exclaimed the admiral; 
" and we may be certain that he hath not given the signal idly. 
Who sitteth on the top-gallant yard, there, on watch for won^ 
ders ahead?" 

" Senor Don Almirante, it is I," answered Sanchc. " I have 
been here since we sang the vesper hymn." 



368 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Seest tliou aught unusual, westward ? Look vigilantly, for 
we touch on mighty things I" 

" Naught, Seiior, unless it be that the Pinta is lessening her 
canvas, and the Nina is already closing with our fleet consort — 
nay, I now see the latter shortening sail also !" 

" For these great tidings, all honor and praise be to God ! 
These are proofs that no false cry hath this time misled their 
judgments. We will join our consorts, good Bartolemeo, ere 
we take in a single inch of canvas." 

Every thing was now in motion on board the Santa Maria, 
which went dashing ahead for another half hour, when she came 
up with the two other caravels, both of which had hauled by 
the wind, under short canvas, and were forging slowly through 
the water, on different tacks, like coursers cooling themselves 
after having terminated a severe struggle by reaching the goal. 

" Come hither, Luis," said Columbus, " and feast thine eyes 
with a sight that doth not often meet the gaze of the best of 
Christians.' ' 

The night was far from dark, a tropical sky glittering with a 
thousand stars, and even the ocean itself appearing to emit a 
sombre, melancholy light. By the aid of such assistants it was 
possible to see several miles, and more especially to note ob- 
jects on the margin of the ocean. When the young man cast 
his eyes to leeward, as directed by Columbus, he very plainly 
perceived a point where the blue of the sky ceased, and a dark 
mound rose from the water, stretching for a few leagues south- 
ward, and then terminated, as it had commenced, by a union 
between the watery margin of the ocean and the void of heaven. 
The intermediate space had the defined outline, the density, 
and the hue of land, as seen at midnight. 

"Behold the Indies !" said Columbus ; " the mighty problem 
is solved ! This is doubtless an island, but a continent is near. 
Laud be to God I" 



MEKCEDES OF CASTILE. 369 



CHAPTER XXII. 

14 There is a Power, whose care 

Teaches thy way along that pathless coast— 
The desert and illimitable air — 
Lone wandering, but not lost." 1 

Bryant. 

The two or three hours that succeeded, were hours of an ex- 
traordinary and intense interest. The three vessels stood 
hovering off the dusky shore, barely keeping at a safe distance, 
stripped of most of their canvas, resembling craft that cruised 
leisurely at a given point, indifferent to haste or speed. As 
they occasionally and slowly passed each other, words of heart- 
felt congratulation were exchanged ; but no noisy or intempe- 
rate exultation was heard on that all-important night. The 
sensations excited in the adventurers, by their success, were too 
deep and solemn for any such vulgar exhibition of joy ; and 
perhaps there was not one among them all who did not, at that 
moment, inwardly confess his profound submission to, and 
absolute dependence on a Divine Providence. 

Columbus was silent. Emotions like his seldom find vent in 
words ; but his heart was overflowing with gratitude and love. 
He believed himself to be in the further east, and to have 
reached that part of the world by sailing west ; and it is natural 
to suppose that he expected the curtain of day would rise on 
t?ome of those scenes of oriental magnificence which had been 
so eloquently described by the Polos and other travellers in 
those remote and little-known regions. That this or other 
islands w T ere inhabited, the little he had seen sufficiently proved ; 
but, as yet, all the rest was conjecture of the wildest and most 
uncertain character. The fragrance of the land, however, was 



370 MERCEDES OF CASTIL2. 

very perceptible in the vessels, thus affording an opportunity to 
two of the senses to unite in establishing their success. 

At length the long wished-for day approached, and the east- 
ern sky began to assume the tints that precede the appearance 
of the sun. As the light diffused itself athwart the dark blue 
ocean, and reached the island, the outlines of the latter became 
more and more distinct; then objects became visible on its 
surface, trees, glades, rocks, and irregularities, starting out of 
the gloom, until the whole picture was drawn in the gray, 
solemn colors of morning. Presently the direct rays of the sun 
touched it, gilding its prominent points, and throwing others 
into shadow. It then became apparent that the discovery was 
that of an island of no great extent, well wooded, and of a ver- 
dant and pleasant aspect. The land was low, but possessed an 
outline sufficiently graceful to cause it to seem a paradise in the 
eyes of men who had seriously doubted whether they were 
ever to look on solid ground again. The view of his mother 
earth is always pleasant to the mariner who has long gazed on 
nothing but water and sky ; but thrice beautiful did it now 
seem to men who not only saw in it their despair cured, but 
their most brilliant hopes revived. From the position of the 
land near him, Columbus did not doubt that he had passed 
another island, on which the light had been seen, and, from his 
known course, this conjecture has since been rendered almost 
certain. 

The sun had scarcely risen, when living beings were seen 
rushing out of the woods, to gaze in astonishment at the sudden 
appearance of machines, that were at first mistaken by the un- 
tutored islanders, for messengers from heaven. Shortly after, 
Columbus anchored his little fleet, and landed to take possession 
in the name of the two sovereigns. 

As much state was observed on this occasion as the limited 
means of the adventurers would allow. Each vessel sent a 
boat, with her commander. The admiral, attired in scarlet, 
and carrying the royal standard, proceeded in advance, while 
Martin Alonzo, and Vicente Yanez Pinzon, followed, holding 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 37l 

banners bearing crosses, the symbol of the expedition, with let 
ters representing the initials of the two sovereigns, or F. and Y. , 
for Fernando and Ysabel. 

The forms usual to such occasions were observed on reach- 
ing the shore. Columbus took possession, rendered thanks to 
God for the success of the expedition, and then began to look 
about him in order to form some estimate of the value of his 
discovery.* 

No sooner were the ceremonies observed, than the people 
crowded round the admiral, and began to pour out their con- 
gratulations for his success, with their contrition for their own 
distrust and disaffection. The scene has often been described 
as a proof of the waywardness and inconstancy of human judg- 
ments ; the being who had so lately been scowled on as a reck- 
less and selfish adventurer, being now regarded as little less than 
a God. The admiral was no more elated by this adulation, 
than he had been intimidated by the previous dissatisfaction, 
maintaining his calmness of exterior and gravity of demeanor, 
with those who pressed around him, though a close observer 
might have detected the gleaming of triumph in his eye, and 
the glow of inward rapture on his cheek. 

" These honest people are as inconstant in their apprehen- 
sions, as they are extreme in their rejoicings," said Columbus 
to Luis, wheil liberated a little from the throng ; " yesterday 

* It is a singular fact that the position and name of the precise island that was first 
fallen in with, on this celebrated voyage, remain to this day, if not a matter of doubt, 
at least a matter of discussion. By most persons, some of the best authorities in- 
cluded, it is believed that the adventurers made Cat Island, as the place is now called, 
though the admiral gave it the appellation of San Salvador ; while others contend for 
what is now termed Turk's Island. The reason given for the latter opinion is the 
position of the island, and the course subsequently steered in order to reach Cuba, 
Munoz is of opinion that it was Watling's Island, which lies due east of Cat Island, at 
the distance of a degree of longitude, or a few hours' run. As respects Turk's Island, 
the facts do not sustain the theory. The course steered, after quitting the island, was 
not west, but south-west ; and we find Columbus anxious to get south to reach the 
island of Cuba, which was described to him by the natives, and which he believed to 
be Cipango. No reason is given by Munoz for his opinion ; but Watling's Island does 
not answer the description of the great navigator, while it is so placed as to have lain 
quite near his course, and was doubtless passed unseen in the darkness. It is thought 
the light so often observed by Columbus was on this island. 



372 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

they would have cast me into the sea, and to-day they are 
much disposed to forget God, himself, in his unworthy crea- 
ture. Dost not see, that the men who gave us most con- 
cern, on account of their discontent, are now the loudest in 
their applause ?" 

" This is but nature, Senor; fear flying from panic to exul- 
tation. These "knaves fancy they are praising you, when they 
are, in truth, rejoicing in their own escape from some unknown 
but dreaded evil. Our friends Sancho and Pepe seem not to 
be thus overwhelmed, for while the last is gathering flowers 
from this shore of India, the first seems to be looking about him 
with commendable coolness, as if he might be calculating the 
latitude and longitude of the Great Khan's doblas." 

Columbus smiled, and, accompanied by Luis, he drew nearer 
to the two men mentioned, who were a little apart from the 
rest of the group. Sancho was standing with his hands thrust 
into the bosom of his doublet, regarding the scene with the 
coolness of a philosopher, and toward him the admiral first 
directed his steps. 

"How is this, Sancho of the ship-yard-gate V 9 said the great 
navigator; " thou lookest on this glorious scene as coolly as thou 
wouldst regard a street in Moguer, or a field in Andalusia ?" 

" Senor Don Almirante, the same hand made both. This is 
not the first island on which I have landed ; nor are yonder 
naked savages the first men I have seen who were not dressed 
in scarlet doublets.' ' 

"But hast thou no feeling for success — no gratitude to God foi 
this vast discovery ? Eeflect, my friend, we are on the confines of 
Asia^ and yet have we come here by holding a western course." 

" That the last is true, Seiior, I will swear myself, having 
held the tiller in mine own hands no small part of the way. Do 
you think, Senor Don Almirante, that we have come far enough 
in this direction to have got to the back side of the earth, or to 
stand, as it might be, under the very feet of Spain ?" 

"By no means. The realms of the Great Khan will scarcely 
occupy the position you mean." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. * 373 

" Then, Seiior, what will there be to prevent the doblas of 
that country from falling off into the air, leaving us our journey 
for our pains ?" 

" The same power that will prevent our caravels from drop- 
ping out of the sea, and the water itself from following. These 
things depend on natural laws, my friend, and nature is a legis- 
lator that will be respected." 

" It is all Moorish to me," returned Sancho, rubbing his eye- 
brows. "Here we are, of a verity, if not actually beneath the 
feet of Spain, standing, as it might be, on the side of the 
house ; and yet I find no more difficulty in keeping on an even 
keel, than I did in Moguer — by Santa Clara ! less, in some 
particulars, good solid Xeres wine being far less plenty here 
than there." 

" Thou art no Moor, Sancho, although thy father's name be 
a secret. And thou, Pepe, what dost thou find in those flowers 
to draw thy attention so early from all these wonders ?" 

" Seiior, I gather them for Monica. A female hath a more 
delicate feeling than a man, and she will be glad to see with 
what sort of ornaments God hath adorned the Indies." 

u Dost thou fancy, Pepe, that thy love can keep those flowers 
in bloom, until the good caravel shall recross the Atlantic ?" 
demanded Luis, laughing. 

" Who knoweth, Senor Gutierrez ? A warm heart maketh a 
thriving nursery. You would do well, too, if you prefer any 
Castilian lady to all others, to bethink you of her beauty, and 
gather some of these rare plants to deck her hair." 

Columbus now turned away, the natives seeming disposed to 
approach the strangers, while Luis remained near the young 
sailor, who still continued to collect the plants of the tropics. 
In a minute our hero was similarly employed ; and long ere the 
admiral and the wondering islanders had commenced their first 
parley, he had arranged a gorgeous bouquet, which he already 
fancied in the glossy dark hair of Mercedes. 

The events of a public nature that followed, are too familiar 
to every intelligent reader to need repetition here. After pass- 



374 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

mg a short time at San Salvador, Columbus proceeded to other 
islands, led on by curiosity, and guided by real or fancied re- 
ports of the natives, until the 28th, when he reached that of 
Cuba. Here he imagined, for a time, that he had found the 
continent, and he continued coasting it, first in a north-westerly, 
and then in a south-easterly direction, for near a month. Fa- 
miliarity with the novel scenes that offered soon lessened their 
influence, and the inbred feelings of avarice and ambition began 
to resume their sway in the bosoms of several of those who had 
been foremost in manifesting their submission to the admiral, 
when the discovery of land so triumphantly proved the justice 
of his theories, and the weakness of their own misgivings. 
Among others who thus came under the influence of their 
nature, was Martin Alonzo Pinzon, who, finding himself almost 
entirely excluded from the society of the young Count of Llera, 
in whose eyes he perceived he filled but a very subordinate 
place, fell back on his own local importance, and began to envy 
Columbus a glory that he now fancied he might have secured for 
himself. Hot words had passed between the admiral and 
himself, on more than one occasion, before the land was made, 
and every day something new occurred to increase the coldness 
between them. 

It forms no part of this work to dwell on the events that fol- 
lowed, as the adventurers proceeded from island to island, port 
to port, and river to river. It was soon apparent that very im- 
portant discoveries had been made ; and the adventurers were 
led on day by day, pursuing their investigations, and following 
directions that were ill comprehended, but which, it was fan- 
cied, pointed to mines of gold. Everywhere they met with a 
gorgeous and bountiful nature, scenery that fascinated the eye, 
and a climate that soothed the senses ; but, as yet, man was 
found living in the simplest condition of the savage state. The 
delusion of being in the Indies was general, and every intima- 
tion that fell from those untutored beings, whether by word or 
sign, was supposed to have some reference to the riches of the 
east. All believed that, if not absolutely within the kingdom 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 375 

of the Great Khan, they were at least on its confines. Under 
such circumstances, when each day actually produced new 
scenes, promising still greater novelties, few bethought them of 
Spain, unless it were in connection with the glory of returning 
to her, successful and triumphant. Even Luis dwelt less in- 
tently in his thoughts on Mercedes, suffering her image, beau- 
tiful as it was, to be momentarily supplanted by the unusual 
spectacles that arose before his physical sight in such constant 
and unwearied succession. Little substantial, beyond the fer- 
tile soil and genial climate, offered, it is true, in the way of 
realizing all the bright expectations of the adventurers in con- 
nection with pecuniary advantages; but each moment was fraught 
with hope, and no one knew what a day would bring forth. 

Two agents were at length sent into the interior to make 
discoveries, and Columbus profited by the occasion to careen 
his vessels. About the time this mission was expected to 
return, Luis sallied forth with a party of armed men to meet 
it, Sancho making one of his escort. The ambassadors were 
met on their way back at a short day's march from the vessels, 
accompanied by a few of the natives, who were following with 
intense curiosity, expecting at each moment to see their un- 
known visitors take their flight toward heaven. A short halt 
was made for the purpose of refreshing themselves, after the 
two parties had joined ; and Sancho, as reckless of danger on 
the land as on the ocean, stalked into a village that lay near the 
halting place. Here he endeavored to make himself as agree- 
able to the inhabitants as one of his appearance very well 
could, by means of signs. Sancho figured in this little hamlet 
under some such advantages as those that are enjoyed in the 
country by a great man from town ; the spectators not being, 
as yet, sufficiently sophisticated to distinguish between the cut 
of a doublet and the manner of wearing it, as between a clown 
and a noble. He had not been many minutes playing the 
grandee among these simple beings, when they seemed desirous 
of offering to him some mark of particular distinction. Pres- 
ently, a man appeared, holding certain dark-looking and dried 



376 MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 

leaves, which he held out to the hero of the moment in a defer- 
ential manner, as a Turk would offer his dried sweet-meats, or 
an American his cake. Sancho was about to accept the pres- 
ent, though he would greatly have preferred a dobla, of which 
he had not seen any since the last received from the admiral, 
when a forward movement was made by most of the Cubans, 
who humbly, and with emphasis, uttered the word " tobacco" 
— " tobacco." On this hint, the person who held forth the 
offering drew back, repeated the same word in an apologizing 
manner, and set about making what, it was now plain$ was 
termed a " tobacco," in the language of that country. This 
was soon effected, by rolling up the leaves in the form of a rude 
segar, when a " tobacco," duly manufactured, was offered to 
the seaman. Sancho took the present, nodded his head con- 
descendingly, repeated the words himself, in the best manner 
he could, and thrust the " tobacco" into his pocket. This 
movement evidently excited some surprise among the specta- 
tors, but, after a little consultation, one of them lighted an end 
of a roll, applied the other to his mouth, and began to puff 
forth volumes of a fragrant light smoke, not only to his own 
infinite satisfaction, but seemingly to that of all around him. 
Sancho attempted an imitation, which resulted, as is common 
with the tyro in this accomplishment, in his reeling back to his 
party with the pallid countenance of an opium-chewer, and a 
nausea that he had not experienced since the day he first ven- 
tured beyond the bar of Saltes, to issue on the troubled surface 
of the Atlantic. 

This little scene might be termed the introduction of the 
well-known American weed into civilized society, the misap- 
prehension of the Spaniards, touching the appellation, trans- 
ferring the name of the roll to the plant itself. Thus did Sancho, 
of the ship-yard-gate, become the first Christian tobacco smoker, 
an accomplishment in which he was so soon afterward rivalled 
by some of the greatest men of his age, and which has extended 
down to our own times. 

On the return of his agents, Columbus again sailed, pushing 



MERCEDES OF CASTIT.E. 377 

his way along the north shore of Cuba. While struggling 
against the trades, with a view to get to the eastward, he found 
the wind too fresh, and determined to hear up for a favorite 
haven in the island of Cuba, that he had named Puerto del 
Principe. With this view a signal was made to call the Pinta 
down, that vessel being far to windward ; and, as night was 
near, lights were carried in order to enable Martin Alonzo to 
close with his commander. The next morning, at the dawn of 
day, when Columbus came on deck, he cast a glance around 
him, and beheld the Nina, hove-to under his lee, but no signs 
of the other caravel. 

''Have none seen the Pinta?" demanded the admiral, hastily, 
of Sancho, who stood at the helm. 

" Senor, / did, as long as eyes could see a vessel that was 
striving to get out of view. Master Martin Alonzo hath dis- 
appeared in the eastern board, while we have been lying-to, 
here, in waiting for him to come down." 

Columbus now perceived that he was deserted by the very 
man who had once shown so much zeal in his behalf, and who 
had given, in the act, new proof of the manner in which friend- 
ship vanishes before self-interest and cupidity. There had 
been among the adventurers many reports of the existence of 
gold mines, obtained from the descriptions of the natives ; and 
the admiral made no doubt that his insubordinate follower had 
profited by the superior sailing of his caravel, to keep the wind, 
in the expectation to be the first to reach the Eldorado of their 
wishes. As the weather still continued unfavorable, however, 
the Santa Maria and the Nina returned to port, where they waited 
for a change. This separation occurred on the 21st of Novem- 
ber, at which moment the expedition had not advanced beyond 
the north coast of Cuba. 

From this time until the sixth of the following month, Co- 
lumbus continued his examination of this noble island, when 
he crossed what has since been termed the " windward pas- 
sage," and first touched on the shores of Hayti. All this time, 
there had been as much communication as circumstances would 



378 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

allow, with tlie aborigines, the Spaniards making friends wher- 
ever they went, as a consequence of the humane and prudent 
measures of the admiral. It is true that violence had been 
done, in a few instances, by seizing half a dozen individuals in 
order to carry them to Spain, as offerings to Dona Isabella ; 
but this act was easily reconcilable to usage in that age, equally 
on account of the deference that was paid to the kingly author- 
ity, and on the ground that the seizures were for the good of 
the captives' souls. 

The adventurers were more delighted with the bold, and yet 
winning aspect of Hayti, than they had been with even the 
adjacent island of Cuba. The inhabitants were found to be 
handsomer and more civilized than any they had yet seen, 
while they retained the gentleness and docility that had proved 
so pleasing to the admiral. Gold, also, was seen among them 
in considerable quantities ; and the Spaniards set on foot a 
trade of some extent, in which the usual incentive of civilized 
man was the great aim of one side, and hawk's-bells appear to 
have been the principal desideratum with the other. 

In this manner, and in making hazardous advances along the 
coast, the admiral was occupied until the 20th of the month, 
when he reached a point that was said to be in the vicinity of 
the residence of the Great Cacique of all that portion of the 
island. This prince, whose name, as spelt by the Spaniards, 
was Guacanagari, had many tributary caciques, and was under- 
stood, from the half-intelligible descriptions of his subjects, to 
be a monarch that was much beloved. On the 2 2d, while still 
lying in the Bay of Aciil, where the vessels had anchored two 
days previously, a large canoe was seen entering the haven. It 
was shortly after announced to the admiral that this boat con- 
tained an ambassador from the Great Cacique, who brought 
presents from his master, with a request that the vessels would 
move a league or two further east, and anchor off the town in- 
habited by the prince himself. The wind preventing an imme- 
diate compliance, a messenger was despatched with a suitable 
answer, and the ambassador returned. Fatigued with idleness, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. .°i7il 

anxious to see more of the interior, and impelled by a constitu- 
tional love of adventure, Luis, who had struck up a hasty friend- 
ship with a young man called Mattinao, who attended the am- 
bassador, asked permission to accompany him, taking his pas- 
sage in the canoe. Columbus gave his consent to this proposal 
with a good deal of reluctance, the rank and importance of our 
hero inducing him to avoid the consequences of any treachery 
or accident. The importunity of Luis finally prevailed, however, 
and he departed with many injunctions to be discreet, being 
frequently admonished of the censure that would await the ad- 
miral in the event of any thing serious occurring. As a precau- 
tion, too, Sancho Mundo was directed to accompany the young 
man, in this chivalrous adventure, in the capacity of an esquire. 

No weapon more formidable than a blunt arrow having yet 
been seen in the hands of the natives, the young Count de 
Llera declined taking his mail, going armed only with a trusty 
sword, the temper of which had been tried on many a Moorish 
corslet and helm, in his foot encounters, and protected by a 
light buckler. An arquebuse had been put into his hand, but 
he refused it, as a weapon unsuited to knightly hands, and as 
betraying a distrust that was not merited by the previous 
conduct of the natives. Sancho, however, was less scrupulous, 
and accepted the weapon. In order, moreover, to divert the 
attention of his followers from a concession that the admiral 
felt to be a departure from his own rigid laws, Luis and his 
companions landed, and entered the canoe at a point concealed 
from the vessels, in order that their absence might not be 
known. It is owing to these circumstances, as well as to the 
general mystery that was thrown about the connection of the 
young grandee with the expedition, that the occurrences we are 
about to relate were never entered by the admiral in his journal, 
and have consequently escaped the prying eyes of the various 
historians who have subsequently collected so much from that 
pregnant document. 



380 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

M Thou seemest to fancy's eye 

An animated blossom born in air ; 
Which breathes and bourgeons in the golden sky, 
And sheds its odors there. " 

SlJTERMEISTER. 

Notwithstanding Ills native resolution, and an indifference 
to danger that amounted to recklessness, Luis did not find him- 
self alone with the Haytians without, at least, a lively con- 
sciousness of the novelty of his situation. Still, nothing oc- 
curred to excite uneasiness, and he continued his imperfect 
communications with his new friends, occasionally throwing in 
a remark to Sancho, in Spanish, who merely wanted encourage- 
ment to discourse by the hour. Instead of following the boat 
of the Santa Maria, on board which the ambassador had em- 
barked, the canoe pushed on several leagues further east, it 
being understood that Luis was not to present himself in the 
town of Guacanagari, until after the arrival of the ships, when 
he was to rejoin his comrades stealthily, or in a way not to at- 
tract attention. 

Our hero would not have been a true lover, had he remained 
indifferent to the glories of the natural scenery that lay spread 
before his eyes, as he thus coasted the shores of Espanola. 
The boldness of the landscape, as in the Mediterranean, was re- 
lieved by the softness of a low latitude, which throws some 
such witchery around rocks and promontories, as a sunny smile 
lends to female beauty. More than once did he burst out into 
exclamations of delight, and as often did Sancho respond in the 
same temper, if not exactly in the same language ; the latter 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE 381 

conceiving it to be a sort of duty to echo all that the young 
noble said, iu the way of poetry. 

" I take it, Seiior Conde," observed the seaman, when they 
had reached a spot several leagues beyond that where the launch 
of the ship had put to shore; "I take it for granted, Seiior 
Conde, that your Excellency knoweth whither these naked gen- 
try are paddling, all this time. They seem in a hurry, and have 
a port in their minds, if it be not in view." 

" Art thou uneasy, friend Sancho, that thou puttest thy ques- 
tion thus earnestly 2" 

" If I am, Don Luis, it is altogether on account of the family 
of Bobadilla, which would lose its head, did any mishap befall 
your Excellency. What is it to Sancho, of the ship-yard- gate, 
whether he is married to some princess in Cipango, and gets to 
be adopted by the Great Khan, or whether he is an indifferent 
mariner out of Moguer ? It is very much as if one should offer 
him the choice between wearing a doublet and eating garlic, 
and going naked on sweet fruits and a full stomach. I take it, 
Seiior, your Excellency would not willingly exchange the castle 
of Llera for the palace of this Great Cacique ?" 

" Thou art right, Sancho ; even rank must depend on the 
state of society in which we live. A Castilian noble cannot 
envy a Haytian sovereign." 

"More especially, since my lord, the Seiior Don Almirante, 
hath publicly proclaimed that our gracious lady, the Doiia 
Isabella, is henceforth and forever to be queen over him," re- 
turned Sancho, with a knowing glance of the eye. " Little do 
these worthy people understand the honor that is in store for 
them, and least of all, his Highness, King Guacanagari!" 

" Hush, Sancho, and keep thy unpleasant intimations in thine 
own breast. Our friends turn the head of the canoe toward 
yonder river's mouth, and seem bent on landing." 

By this time, indeed, the natives had coasted as far as they 
intended, and were turning in toward the entrance of a small 
stream, which, taking its rise among the noble mountains that 
were grouped inland, found its way through a smiling valley to 



382 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

the ocean. This stream was neither broad nor deep, but it 
contained far more than water sufficient for any craft used by 
the natives. Its banks were fringed with bushes ; and as they 
glided up it, Luis saw fifty sites where he thought he could be 
content to pass his life, provided, always, that it might possess 
the advantage of Mercedes' presence. It is scarcely necessary 
to add, too, that in all these scenes he fancied his mistress 
attired in the velvets and laces that were then so much used 
by high-born dames, and that he saw her natural grace, em- 
bellished by the courtly ease and polished accessories of one 
who lived daily, if not hourly, in the presence of her royal 
mistress. 

As the canoe shut in the coast, by entering between the two 
points that formed the river's mouth, Sancho pointed out to the 
young noble a small fleet of canoes, that was coming down be- 
fore the wind from the eastward, apparently bound, like so 
many more they had seen that day, to the Bay of Acul, on a 
visit to the wonderful strangers. The natives in the canoe also 
beheld this little flotilla, which was driving before the wind 
under cotton sails, and by their smiles and signs showed that 
they gave it the same destination. About this time, too, or just 
as they entered the mouth of the stream, Mattinao drew from 
under a light cotton robe, that he occasionally wore, a thin cir- 
clet of pure gold, which he placed upon his head, in the man- 
ner of a coronet. This, Luis knew, was a token that he was a 
cacique, one of those who were tributary to Guacanagari, and 
he arose to salute him at this evidence of his rank, an act that 
was imitated by all of the Haytiens also. From this assump- 
tion of state, Luis rightly imagined that Mattinao had now en- 
tered within the limits of a territory that acknowledged his will. 
From the moment that the young cacique threw aside his incog 
nito, he ceased to paddle, but, assuming an air of authority and 
dignity, he attempted to converse with his guest in the best 
manner their imperfect means of communication would allow. 
He often pronounced the word, Ozema, and Luis inferred from 
the manner in which he used it, that it was the name of a fa- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 383 

vorite wife, it having been already ascertained by the Spaniards, 
or at least it was thought to be ascertained, that the caciques 
indulged in polygamy, while they rigidly restricted their sub- 
jects to one wife. 

The canoe ascended the river several miles, until it reached 
one of those tropical valleys in which nature seems to expend 
her means of rendering this earth inviting. While the scenery 
had much of the freedom of a wilderness, the presence of man 
for centuries had deprived it of all its ruder and more savage 
features. Like those who tenanted it, the spot possessed the 
perfection of native grace, unfettered and uninvaded by any of 
the more elaborate devices of human expedients. The dwell- 
ings were not without beauty, though simple as the wants of 
their owners ; the flowers bloomed in midwinter, and the gen- 
erous branches still groaned with the weight of their nutritious 
and palatable fruits. 

Mattinao was received by his people with an eager curiosity, 
blended with profound respect. His mild subjects crowded 
around Luis and Sancho, with some such wonder as a civilized 
man would gaze at one of the prophets, were he to return to 
earth in the flesh. They had heard of the arrival of the ships, 
but they did not the less regard their inmates as visitors from 
heaven. This, probably, was not the opinion of the more ele- 
vated in rank, for, even in the savage state, the vulgar mind is 
far from being that of the favored few. Whether it was owing 
to this greater facility of character, and to habits that more 
easily adapted themselves to the untutored notions of the In- 
dians, or to their sense of propriety, Sancho soon became the 
favorite with the multitude ; leaving the Count of Llera more 
especially to the care of Mattinao, and the principal men of his 
tribe. Owing to this circumstance, the two Spaniards were 
soon separated, Sancho being led away by the oi polloi to a sort 
of square in the centre of the village, leaving Don Luis in the 
habitation of the cacique. 

No sooner did Mattinao find himself in the company of our 
hero, and that of two of his confidential chiefs, than the name 



834 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

of Ozema was repeated eagerly among the Indians. A rapid 
conversation followed, a messenger was despatched, Luis knew 
not whither, and then the chiefs took their departure, leaving 
the young Castilian alone with the cacique. Laying aside his 
golden band, and placing a cotton robe about his person, which 
had hitherto been nearly naked, Mattinao made a sign for his 
companion to follow him, and left the building. Throwing the 
buckler over his shoulder, and adjusting the belt of his sword in 
a way that the weapon should not incommode him in walking, 
Luis obeyed with as much confidence as he would have followed 
a friend along the streets of Seville. 

Mattinao led the way through a wilderness of sweets, where 
tropical plants luxuriated beneath the branches of trees loaded 
with luscious fruits, holding his course by a foot-path which 
lay on the banks of a torrent that flowed from a ravine, and 
poured its waters into the river below. The distance he went 
might have been half a mile. Here he reached a cluster of 
rustic dwellings that occupied a lovely terrace on a hill-side, 
where they overlooked the larger town below the river, and 
commanded a view of the distant ocean. Luis saw at a glance 
that this sweet retreat was devoted to the uses of the gentler 
sex, and he doubted not that it formed a species of seraglio, set 
apart for the wives of the young cacique. He was led into one 
of the principal dwellings, where the simple but grateful refresh- 
ments used by the natives, were again offered to him. 

The intercourse of a month had not sufficed to render either 
party very familiar with the language of the other. A few of 
the commoner words of the Indians had been caught by the 
Spaniards, and perhaps Luis was one of the most ready in their 
use ; still, it is highly probable, he was oftener wrong than 
riodit, even when he felt the most confident of his success. 
But the language of friendship is not easily mistaken, and our 
hero had not entertained a feeling of distrust from the time he 
left the ships, down to the present moment. 

Mattinao had despatched a messenger to an adjacent dwell- 
ing when he entered that in which Luis was now entertained 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 385 

and when sufficient time had been given for the last to refresh 
himself, the cacique arose, and by a courteous gesture, such as 
might have become a master of ceremonies in the court of 
Isabella, he again invited the young grandee to follow. They 
took their way along the terrace, to a house larger than com- 
mon, and which evidently contained several subdivisions, as 
they entered into a sort of anteroom. Here they remained but 
a minute ; the cacique, after a short parley with a female, re- 
moving a curtain ingeniously made of sea-weed, and leading 
the way to an inner apartment. It had but a single occupant, 
whose character Luis fancied to be announced in the use of the 
single word " Ozema," that the cacique uttered in a low, affec- 
tionate tone, as they entered. Luis bowed to this Indian 
beauty, as profoundly as he could have made his reverence to a 
high-born damsel of Spain ; then, recovering himself, he fast- 
ened one long, steady look of admiration on the face of the 
curious but half-frightened young creature who stood before 
him, and exclaimed, in such tones as only indicate rapture, ad- 
miration, and astonishment mingled — 

"Mercedes!" 

The young cacique repeated this name in the best manner he 
could, evidently mistaking it for a Spanish term to express ad- 
miration, or satisfaction ; while the trembling young thing, who 
was the subject of all this wonder, shrunk back a step, blushed, 
laughed, and muttered in her soft, low, musical voice, " Mer- 
cedes," as the innocent take up and renew any source of their 
harmless pleasures. She then stood, with her arms folded 
meekly on her bosom, resembling a statue of wonder. But it 
may be necessary to explain why, at a moment so peculiar, the 
thoughts and tongue of Luis had so suddenly resorted to his 
mistress. In order to do this, we shall first attempt a short 
description of the person and appearance of Ozema, as was, in 
fact, the name of the Indian beauty. 

All the accounts agree in describing the aborigines of the 
West Indies as being singularly well formed, and of a natural 
grace in their movements, that extorted a common admiration 



386 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

among the Spaniards. Their color was not unpleasant, and the 
inhabitants of Hayti, in particular, were said to be very little 
darker than the people of Spain. Those who were but little 
exposed to the bright sun of that climate, and who dwelt habit- 
ually beneath the shades of groves, or in the retirement of their 
dwellings, like persons of similar habits in Europe, might, by 
comparison, have even been termed fair. Such was the fact 
with Ozema, who, instead of being the wife of the young 
cacique, was his only sister. According to the laws of Hayti, 
the authority of a cacique was transmitted through females, 
and a son of Ozema was looked forward to, as the heir of his 
uncle. Owing to this fact, and to the circumstance that the 
true royal line, if a term so dignified can be applied to a state 
of society so simple, was reduced to these two individuals, 
Ozema had been more than usually fostered by the tribe, leav- 
ing her free from care, and as little exposed to hardships, as at 
all comported with the condition of her people. She had 
reached her eighteenth year, without having experienced any 
of those troubles and exposures which are more or less the inev- 
itable companions of savage life ; though it was remarked by 
the Spaniards, that all the Indians they had yet seen seemed 
more than usually free from evils of this character. They owed 
this exception to the generous quality of the soil, the genial 
warmth of the climate, and the salubrity of the air. In a word, 
Ozema, in her person, possessed just those advantages that 
freedom from restraint, native graces, and wild luxuriance, 
might be supposed to lend the female form, under the advan- 
tages of a mild climate, a healthful and simple diet, and perfect 
exemption from exposure, care, or toil. It would not have been 
difficult to fancy Eve such a creature, when she first appeared 
to Adam, fresh from the hands of her divine Creator, modest, 
artless, timid, and perfect. 

The Haytians used a scanty dress, though it shocked none 
of their opinions to go forth in the garb of nature. Still, few 
of rank were seen without some pretensions to attire, which was 
worn rather as an ornament, or a mark of distinction, than as 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 387 

necessary either to usage or comfort. Ozema, herself, formed 
no exception to the general rule. A cincture of Indian cloth, 
woven in gay colors, circled her slender waist, and fell nearly as 
low as her knees ; a robe of spotless cotton, inartificiaHy made, 
but white as the driven snow, and of a texture so fine that it 
might haVe shamed many of the manufactures of our own days, 
fell like a scarf across a shoulder, and was loosely united at the 
opposite side, dropping in folds nearly to the ground. Sandals, 
of great ingenuity and beauty, protected the soles of feet that a 
queen might have envied ; and a large plate of pure gold, 
rudely wrought, was suspended from her neck by a string of 
small, but gorgeous shells. Bracelets of the latter were on her 
pretty wrists, and two light bands of gold encircled ankles that 
were as faultless as those of the Venus of Naples. In that re- 
gion, the fineness of the hair was thought the test of birth, with 
better reason than many imagine the feet and hands to be, in 
civilized life. As power and rank had passed from female to 
female in her family, for several centuries, the hair of Ozema 
was silken, soft, waving, exuberant, and black as jet. It covered 
her shoulders, like a glorious mantle, and fell as low as her 
simple cincture. So light and silken was this natural veil, that 
its ends waved in the gentle current of air that was rather 
breathing than blowing through the apartment. 

Although this extraordinary creature was much the loveliest 
specimen of young-womanhood that Luis had seen among the 
wild beauties of the islands, it was not so much her graceful 
and well-rounded form, or even the charms of face and expres- 
sion, that surprised him, as a decided and accidental resem- 
blance to the being he had left in Spain, and who had so long 
been the idol of his heart. This resemblance alone had caused 
him to utter the name of his mistress, in the manner related. 
Could the two have been placed together, it would have been 
easy to detect marked points of difference between them, with- 
out being reduced to compare the intellectual and thoughtful 
expression of our heroine's countenance, with the wondering, 
doubting, half-startled look of Ozema : but still the general 



388 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

likeness was so strong, that no person who was familiar with 
the face of one, could fail to note it on meeting with the 
other. Side by side, it would have been discovered that the 
face of Mercedes had the advantage in finesse and delicacy ; 
that her features and brow were nobler ; her eye more illumi- 
nated by the intelligence within ; her smile more radiant with 
thought and the feelings of a cultivated woman; her blush 
more sensitive, betraying most of the consciousness of conven- 
tional habits ; and that the expression generally was much more 
highly cultivated, than that which sprung from the artless im- 
pulses and limited ideas of the young Haytian. Nevertheless, 
in mere beauty, in youth, and tint, and outline, the disparity 
was scarcely perceptible, while the resemblance was striking ; 
and, on the score of animation, native frankness, ingenuousness, 
and all that witchery which ardent and undisguised feeling lends 
to woman, many might have preferred the confiding abandon of 
the beautiful young Indian, to the more trained and dignified 
reserve of the Castilian heiress. What in the latter was earnest, 
high-souled, native, but religious enthusiasm, in the other was 
merely the outpourings of unguided impulses, which, however 
feminine in their origin, were but little regulated in their 
indulgence. 

" Mercedes !" exclaimed our hero, when this vision of Indian 
loveliness unexpectedly broke on his sight. " Mercedes !" re- 
peated Mattinao ; " Mercedes !" murmured Ozema, recoiling a 
step, blushing, laughing, and then resuming her innocent confi- 
dence, as she several times uttered the same word, which she 
also mistook for an expression of admiration, in her own low, 
melodious voice. 

Conversation being out of the question, there remained noth- 
ing for the parties but to express their feelings by signs and acts 
of amity. Luis had not come on his little expedition unprovided 
with presents. Anticipating an interview with the wife of the 
cacique, he had brought up from the village below, several 
articles that he supposed might suit her untutored fancy. But 
the moment he beheld the vision that actually stood before him, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 389 

they all seemed unworthy of such a being. In one of his onsets 
against the Moors, he had brought off a turban of rich but light 
cloth, and he had kept it as a trophy, occasionally wearing it, 
in his visits to the shore, out of pure caprice, and as a sort of 
ornament that might well impose on the simple-minded natives. 
These vagaries excited no remarks, as mariners are apt to in- 
dulge their whims in this manner, when far from the observa- 
tions of those to whom they habitually defer. This turban was 
on his head at the moment he entered the apartment of Ozema, 
and, overcome with the delight of finding so unexpected a re- 
semblance, and, possibly, excited by so unlooked-for an exhibi- 
tion of feminine loveliness, he gallantly unrolled it, threw out 
the folds of rich cloth, and cast it over the shoulders of the 
beautiful Ozema as a mantle. 

The expressions of gratitude and delight that escaped this 
unsophisticated young creature, were warm, sincere, and undis- 
guised. She cast the ample robe on the ground before her, 
repeated the word " Mercedes,' ' again and again, and manifested 
her pleasure with all the warmth of a generous and ingenuous 
nature. If we were to say that this display of Ozema was 
altogether free from the child-like rapture that was, perhaps, 
inseparable from her ignorance, it would be attributing to her 
benighted condition the experience and regulated feelings of 
advanced civilization ; but, notwithstanding the guileless simplic- 
ity with which she betrayed her emotions, her delight was not 
without much of the dignity and tone that usually mark the 
conduct of the superior classes all over the world. Luis fancied 
it as graceful as it was naive and charming. He endeavored to 
imagine the manner in which the Lady of Valverde might 
receive an offering of precious stones from the gracious hands 
of Dona Isabella, and he even thought it very possible that the 
artless grace of Ozema was not far behind what he knew would 
be the meek self-respect, mingled with grateful pleasure, that 
Mercedes could not fail to exhibit. 

While thoughts like these were passing through his mind, the 
Indian girl laid aside her own less enticing robe, without a 

17 



390 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

thought of shame, and then she folded her faultless form in the 
cloth of the turban. This was no sooner done, with a grace 
and freedom peculiar to her unfettered mind, than she drew the 
necklace of shells from her person, and, advancing a step or two 
toward our hero, extended the offering with a half-averted face, 
though the laughing and willing eyes more than supplied the 
place of language. Luis accepted the gift with suitable eager- 
ness, nor did he refrain from using the Castilian gallantry of 
kissing the pretty hand from which he took the bauble. 

The cacique, who had been a pleased spectator of all that 
passed, now signed for the count to follow him, leading the way 
toward another dwelling. Here Don Luis was introduced to 
other young females, and to two or three children, the former 
of whom, he soon discovered, were the wives of Mattinao, and 
the latter his offspring. By dint of gestures, a few words, and 
such other means of explanation as were resorted to between 
the Spaniards and the natives, he now succeeded in ascertaining 
the real affinity which existed between the cacique and Ozema. 
Our hero felt a sensation like pleasure when he discovered that 
the Indian beauty was not married ; and he was fain to refer 
the feeling, perhaps justly, to a sort of jealous sensitiveness that 
grew out of her resemblance to Mercedes. 

The remainder of that, and the whole of the three following 
days, were passed by Luis with his friend, the cacique, in this, 
the favorite and sacred residence of the latter. Of course our 
hero was, if any thing, a subject of greater interest to all his 
hosts, than they could possibly be to him. They took a thou- 
sand innocent liberties with his person : examining his dress, 
and the ornaments he wore, not failing to compare the white- 
ness of his skin with the redder tint of that of Mattinao. On 
these occasions Ozema was the most reserved and shy, though 
her look followed every movement, and her pleased countenance 
denoted the interest she felt in all that concerned the stranger. 
Hours at a time, did Luis lie stretched on fragrant mats near 
this artless and lovely creature, studying the wayward expres- 
sion of her features, in the fond hope of seeing stronger and 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 391 

stronger resemblances to Mercedes, and sometimes losing him- 
self in that which was peculiarly her own. In the course of the 
time passed in these dwellings, efforts were made by the count 
to obtain some useful information of the island ; and whether it 
was owing to her superior rank, or to a native superiority of 
mind, or to a charm of manner, he soon fancied that the ca- 
cique's beautiful sister succeeded better in making him under- 
stand her meaning, than either of the wives of Mattinao, or the 
cacique himself. To Ozema, then, Luis put most of his ques- 
tions ; and ere the day had passed, this quick-witted and atten- 
tive girl had made greater progress in opening an intelligi- 
ble understanding between the adventurers and her country- 
men, than had been accomplished by the communications of 
the two previous months. She caught the Spanish words 
with a readiness that seemed instinctive, pronouncing them 
with an accent that only rendered them prettier and softer to 
the ear. 

Luis de Bobadilla was just as good a Catholic as a rigid edu- 
cation, a wandering life, and the habits of the camp would be 
apt to make one of his rank, years, and temperament. Still, 
that was an age in which most laymen had a deep reverence for 
religion, whether they actually submitted to its purifying in- 
fluence or not. If there were any free-thinkers, at all, they 
existed principally among those who passed their lives in their 
closets, or were to be found among the churchmen, themselves ; 
who often used the cowl as a hood to conceal their infidelity. 
His close association with Columbus, too, had contributed to 
strengthen our hero's tendency to believe in the constant super- 
vision of Providence ; and he now felt a strong inclination to 
fancy that this extraordinary facility of Ozema's in acquiring 
languages, was one of its semi- miraculous provisions, made with 
a view to further the introduction of the religion of the cross 
among her people. Often did he flatter himself, as he sat gaz- 
ing into the sparkling, and yet mild eyes of the girl, listening 
to her earnest efforts to make him comprehend her meaning, 
that he was to be the instrument of bringing about this great 



392 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

good, through so young and charming an agent. The admiral 
had also enjoined on him the importance of ascertaining, if possi- 
ble, the position of the mines, and he had actually succeeded in 
making Ozema comprehend his questions on a subject that was 
all-engrossing with most of the Spaniards. Her answers were 
less intelligible, but Luis thought they never could be sufficient- 
ly full ; flattering himself, the whole time, that he was only la- 
boring to comply with the wishes of Columbus. 

The day after his arrival, our hero was treated to an exhibi- 
tion of some of the Indian games. These sports have been 
too often described to need repetition here ; but, in all their 
movements and exercises, which were altogether pacific, the 
young princess was conspicuous for grace and skill. Luis, too, 
was required to show his powers, and being exceedingly athletic 
and active, he easily bore away the palm from his friend Mat- 
tinao. The young cacique manifested neither jealousy nor dis- 
appointment at this result, while his sister laughed and clapped 
her hands with delight, when he was outdone, even at his 
own sports, by the greater strength or greater efforts of his 
guest. More than once, the wives of Mattinao seemed to utter 
gentle reproaches at this exuberance of feeling, but Ozema an- 
swered with smiling taunts, and Luis thought her, at such 
moments, more beautiful than even imagination could draw, 
and perhaps with justice ; for her cheeks were flushed, her 
eyes became as brilliant as ornaments of jet, and the teeth that 
were visible between lips like cherries, resembled rows of 
ivory. We have said that the eyes of Ozema were black, differ- 
ing, in this particular, from the deep-blue, melancholy orbs of 
the enthusiastic Mercedes ; but still they were alike, so often 
uttering the same feelings, more especially touching matters in 
which Luis was concerned. More than once, during the trial 
of strength, did the young man fancy that the expression of the 
rapture which fairly danced in the eyes of Ozema, was the very 
counterpart of that of the deep-seated delight which had so 
often beamed on him, from the glances of Mercedes, in the 
tourney ; and, at such times, it struck him that the resemblance 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 393 

between the two was so strong as, after some allowance had 
been made for dress, and other sufficiently striking circumstances, 
to render them almost identical. 

The reader is not to suppose from this, that our hero was 
actually inconstant to his ancient love. Far from it. Mer- 
cedes was too deeply enshrined in his heart — and Luis, with all 
his faults, was as warm-hearted and true-hearted a cavalier as 
breathed — to be so easily dispossessed. But he was young, 
distant from her he had so long adored, and was, withal, not 
altogether insensible to admiration so artlessly and winningly 
betrayed by the Indian girl. Had there been the least immod- 
est glance, any proof that art or design lay at the bottom of 
Ozema's conduct, he would at once have taken the alarm, and 
been completely disenthralled from his temporary delusion ; but, 
on the contrary, all was so frank and natural with this artless 
girl ; when she most betrayed the hold he had taken of her 
imagination, it was done with a simplicity so obvious, a naivete 
so irrepressible, and an ingenuousness so clearly the fruit of in- 
nocence, that it was impossible to suspect artifice. In a word, 
our hero merely showed that he was human, by yielding in 
a certain degree to a fascination that, under the circum- 
stances, might well have made deeper inroads on the faith 
even of men who enjoyed much better reputations for stability 
of purpose. 

In situations of so much novelty, time Hies swiftly, and Luis 
himself was astonished when, on looking back, he remembered 
that he had now been several days with Mattinao, most of 
which period had actually been passed in what might not in- 
aptly be termed the seraglio of the cacique. Sancho of the 
ehip-yard-gate had not been in the least neglected all this time. 
He had been a hero, in his own circle, as well as the young 
aoble, nor had he been at all forgetful of his duty on the sub- 
ject of searching for gold. Though he had neither acquired a 
single word of the Haytian language, nor taught a syllable of 
Spanish to even one of the laughing nymphs who surrounded 
him, he had decorated the persons of many of them with 



394 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

hawk's-bells, and had contrived to abstract from them, in re- 
turn, every ornament that resembled the precious metal, which 
they possessed. This transfer, no doubt, was honestly effected, 
however, having been made on that favorite principle of the 
free trade theorists, which maintains that trade is merely an ex- 
change of equivalents ; overlooking all the adverse circum- 
stances which may happen, just at the moment, to determine 
the standard of value. Sancho had his notions of commerce 
as well as the modern philosophers, and, as he and Luis occa- 
sionally met during their sojourn with Mattinao, he revealed a 
few of his opinions on this interesting subject, in one of their 
interviews. 

" I perceive thou hast not forgotten thy passion for doblas, 
friend Sancho," said Luis, laughing, as the old seaman exhib- 
ited the store of dust and golden plates he had collected ; 
" there is sufficient of the metal in thy sack to coin a score of 
them, each having the royal countenances of our lord the King, 
and our lady the Queen !" 

" Double that, Seiior Conde; just double that; and all for 
the price of some seventeen hawk's-bells, that cost but a hand- 
ful of maravedis. By the mass ! this is a most just and holy 
trade, and such as it becomes us Christians to carry on. Here 
are these savages, they think no more of gold than your Ex- 
cellency thinks of a dead Moor, and to be revenged on them, 
I hold a hawk's-bell just as cheap. Let them think as poorly 
as they please of their ornaments and yellow dust, they will 
find me just as willing to part with the twenty hawk's-bells 
that remain. Let them barter away, they wdll find me as ready 
as they possibly can be, to give nothing for nothing.' ' 

" Is this quite honest, Sancho, to rob an Indian of his gold, 
in exchange for a bauble that copper so easily purchaseth? 
Remember thou art a Castilian, and henceforth give two hawk's- 
bells, where thou hast hitherto given but one. 11 

" I never forget my birth, Seiior, for happily the ship-yard 
of Moguer is in old Spain. Is not the value of a thing to be 
settled by what it will bring in the market ? ask any of our 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 395 

traders and they will tell you tins, which is clear as the sun in 
the heavens. When the Venetians lay before Candia, grapes, 
and figs, and Greek w T ine, could be had for the asking in that 
island, while western articles commanded any price. Oh, noth- 
ing is plainer than the fact that every thing hath its price, and 
it is real trade to give one worthless commodity for another." 

" If it be honest to profit by the ignorance of another," an- 
swered Luis, who had a nobleman's contempt for commerce, 
" then it is just to deceive the child and the idiot." 

" God forbid, and especially St. Andrew, my patron, that I 
should do any thing so wicked. HawkVbells are of more 
account than gold, in Hayti, Seiior, and happening to know it, 
I am willing to part with the precious things for the dross. You 
see I am generous instead of being avaricious, for all parties are 
in Hayti, where the value of the articles must be settled. It is 
true, that after running great risks at sea, and undergoing great 
pains and chances, by carrying this gold to Spain, I may be 
requited for my trouble, and get enough benefit to make an 
honest livelihood. I hope Dona Isabella will have so much 
feeling for these, her new subjects, as to prevent their ever 
going into the shipping business — a most laborious and danger- 
ous calling, as we both well know." 

" And why art thou so particular in desiring this favor in be- 
half of these poor islanders, and that, too, Sancho, at the expense 
of thine own bones ¥ 9 . 

" Simply, Senor," answered the knave, with a cunning leer, 
"lest it unsettle trade, which ought to be as free and unen- 
cumbered as possible. Here, now, if we Spaniards come to 
Hayti, we sell one hawk's-bell for a dobla in gold ; whereas, 
were we to give these savages the trouble to come to Spain, a 
dobla of their gold would buy a hundred hawk's-bells ! No — 
no — it is right as it is ; and may a double allowance of purgatory 
be the lot of him who wishes to throw any difficulties in the 
way of a good, honest, free, and civilizing trade, say I," 

Sancho was thus occupied in explaining his notions of free 
trade — the great mystification of modern philanthropists — when 



390 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

there arose such a cry in the village of Mattinao, as is only 
heard in moments of extreme jeopardy and sudden terror. The 
conversation took place in the grove, about midway between 
the town and the private dwellings of the cacique ; and so im- 
plicit had become the confidence the two Spaniards reposed in 
their friends, that neither had any other arms about his person, 
than those furnished by nature. Luis had left both sword and 
buckler, half an hour earlier, at the feet of Ozema, who had 
been enacting a mimic hero, with his weapons, for their mutual 
diversion ; while Sancho had found the arquebuse much too 
heavy to be carried about for a plaything. The last was 
deposited in the room where he had taken up his comfortable 
quarters. 

" Can this mean treachery, Seiior V exclaimed Sancho. 
" Have these blackguards found out the true value of hawk's- 
bells, after all, and do they mean to demand the balance due 
them I" 

" My life on it, Mattinao and all his people are true, Sancho. 
This uproar hath a different meaning — hark ! is not that the cry 
of < Caonabo V " 

" The very same, Sefior! That is the name of the Carib 
cacique, who is the terror of all these tribes." 

" Thy arquebuse, Sancho, if possible ; then join me at the 
dwellings above. Ozema and the wives of our good friend 
must be defended, at every hazard !" 

Luis had no sooner given these orders, than he and Sancho 
separated, the latter running toward the town, which, by this 
time, was a scene of wild tumult, while our hero, slowly and 
sullenly, retired toward the private dwellings of the cacique, oc- 
casionally looking back, as if he longed to plunge into the 
thickest of the fray. Twenty times did he wish for his favorite 
charger and a stout lance, when, indeed, it would not have 
been an extraordinary feat for a knight of his prowess to put 
to flight a thousand enemies like those who now menaced 
him. Often had he singly broken whole ranks of Christian 
foot-soldiers, and it is well known that solitary individuals, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 397 

when mounted, subsequently drove hundreds of the natives 
before them. 

The alarm reached the dwelling of Mattinao before our hero. 
When he entered the house of Ozema, he found its mistress 
surrounded by fifty females, some of whom had already ascended 
from the town below, each of whom was eagerly uttering the ter- 
rible name of "Caonabo." Ozema herself was the most col- 
lected of them all, though it was apparent that, from some 
cause, she was an object of particular solicitude from those 
around her. As Luis entered the apartment, the wives of Mat- 
tinao were pressing around the princess ; and he soon gathered 
from their words and entreaties, that they urged her to fly, lest 
she should fall into the hands of the Carib chief. He even 
fancied, and he fancied it justly, that the rest of the females 
supposed the seizure of the cacique's beautiful sister to be the 
real object of the sudden attack. This conjecture in no manner 
lessened Luis' ardor in the defence. The moment Ozema 
caught sight of him, she flew to his side, clasping her hands, 
and uttering the name of " Caonabo,' ' in a tone that would have 
melted a heart of stone. At the same time, her eyes spoke a 
language of hope, confidence, and petition that was not necessary 
to enlist our hero's resolution on her side. In a moment, the 
sword of the young cavalier was in his hand, and the buckler 
on his arm. He then assured the princess of his zeal, in the 
best manner he could, by placing the buckler before her 
throbbing breast, and waving the sword, as in defiance of her 
enemies : no sooner was this pledge given, than every other 
female disappeared, some flying to the rescue of their children, 
and all endeavoring to find places of concealment. By this sin- 
gular and unexpected desertion, Luis found himself, for the 
first time since they had met, alone with Ozema. 

To remain in the house would be to suffer the enemy to 
approach unseen, and the shrieks and cries sufficiently an- 
nounced that, each moment, the danger grew nearer. Luis ac- 
cordingly made a sign for the girl to follow him, first rolling 
the turban into a bundle and placing it on her arm, that it 



398 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

might serve her, at need, as a species of shield against the 
hostile arrows. While he was thus employed, Ozema's head 
fell upon his breast, and the excited girl burst into tears. This 
display of weakness, however, lasted but a moment, when she 
aroused herself, smiled through her tears, pressed the arm of 
Luis convulsively, and became the Indian heroine again. They 
then left the building together. 

Luis soon perceived that his retreat from the house had not 
been made a moment too soon. The family of Mattinao had 
already disappeared, and a strong party of the invaders was in 
full view, rushing madly up the grove, 'silent, but evidently 
bent on seizing their prey. He felt Ozeina, who clung to his 
arm, tremble violently, and then he heard her murmuring — 

" Caonabo — no — no — no I" 

The young Indian princess had caught the Spanish monosyl- 
lable of dissent, and Luis understood this exclamation to express 
her strong disinclination to become a wife of the Carib chief. 
His resolution to protect her or to die, was in no manner 
lessened by this involuntary betrayal of her feelings, which he 
could not but think might have some connection with himself; 
for, while our hero was both honorable and generous, he was 
human, and, consequently, well disposed to take a favorable 
view of his own powers of pleasing. It was only in connection 
with Mercedes, that Luis de Bobadilla was humble. 

A soldier almost from childhood, the young count looked 
hastily around him for a position that would favor his means 
of defence, and which would render his arms the most available. 
Luckily, one offered so near him, that it required but a minute 
to occupy it. The terrace lay against a precipice of rocks, and 
a hundred feet from the house, was a spot where the face of 
this precipice was angular, throwing forward a wall on each 
side to some distance, while the cliff above overhung the base 
sufficiently to remove all danger from falling stones. In the 
angle were several large fragments of rock that would afford 
shelter against arrows, and, there being a sufficient space of 
greensward before them, on which a knight might well display 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 399 

his prowess when in possession of- this position, our hero felt 
himself strong, if not impregnable, since he could be assailed 
only in front. Ozema was stationed behind one of the frag- 
ments of the fallen rocks, her person only half concealed, how- 
ever, concern for Luis, and curiosity as related to her enemies, 
equally inducing her to expose her head and beautiful bust. 

Luis was scarcely in possession of this post, ere a dozen In- 
dians were drawn up in a line at the distance of fifty yards in 
his front. They were armed with bows, war-clubs, and spears. 
Being without other defensive armor than his buckler, the 
young man would have thought his situation sufficiently criti- 
cal, did he not know that the archery of the natives was any 
thing but formidable. Their arrows would kill, certainly, when 
shot at short distances, and against the naked skin, but it might 
be questioned if they would penetrate the stout velvet in which 
Luis was encased, and fifty yards was not near enough to excite 
undue alarm. The young man did not dare to retreat to the 
rocks, as a clear space was indispensable for the free use of his 
good sword, and to that weapon alone he looked for his even- 
tual triumph. - • 

It was, perhaps, fortunate for our hero that Caonabo himself 
was not with the party which beleaguered him. That redoubt- 
able chieftain, who had been led to a distance in pursuit of the 
flying females, under a belief that she he sought was among 
them, would doubtless have brought the matter to an imme- 
diate issue by a desperate charge, when numbers might have 
prevailed against courage and skill. The actual assailants chose 
a different course, and began to poise their bows. One of the 
most skilful among them drew an arrow to the head, and let it 
fly. The missile glanced from the buckler of the knight, and 
struck the hill behind him, as lightly as if the parties had been 
at their idle sports. Another followed, and Luis turned it aside 
witn his sword, disdaining to raise his shield against such a 
trifle. This cool manner of receiving their assaults caused the 
[ndians to raise a shout, whether in admiration or rage, Luis 
could not tell. 



400 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

The next attack was more judicious, being made on a princi- 
ple that Napoleon is said to have adopted in directing dis- 
charges of his artillery. All those who had bows, some six or 
eight, drew their arrows together, and the weapons came rat- 
tling on the buckler of the assailed in a single flight. It was 
not easy to escape altogether from such a combined assault, 
and our hero received one or two bruises from glancing arrows, 
though no blood followed the blows. A second attempt of the 
same nature was about to be made, when the alarmed girl 
rushed from her place of concealment, and, like the Pocahontas 
of our own history, threw herself before Luis, with her arms 
meekly placed on her bosom. As soon as she appeared, there 
was a cry of " Ozema" — "Ozema," among the assailants, who 
were not Caribs, as all will understand who are familiar with 
the island history, but milder Haytians, governed by a Carib 
chief. 

In vain Luis endeavored to persuade the devoted girl to 
withdraw. She thought his life in danger, and no language, 
had he been able to exert his eloquence on the occasion, could 
have induced her to leave him exposed to such a danger. As 
the Indians were endeavoring to obtain chances at the person 
of Luis without killing the princess, he saw there remained no 
alternative but a retreat behind the fragment of rock. Just as 
he obtained this temporary security, a fierce-looking warrior 
joined the assailants, who immediately commenced a vociferous 
explanation of the actual state of the attack. 

" Caonabo?" demanded Luis, of Ozema, pointing toward the 
new-comer. 

The girl shook her head, after taking an anxious look at the 
stranger's face, at the same time clinging to our hero's arm, 
with seductive dependence. 

No — no — no — " she said, eagerly. " No Caonabo — no — 
no — no." 

" Luis understood the first part of this answer to mean that 
the stranger was not the Carib chief ; and the last to signify 
Ozema's strong and settled aversion to becoming his wife. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 401 

The consultation among the assailants was soon ended. Six 
of them then poised their war-clubs and spears, and made a 
rush for the citadel of the besieged. When they were within 
twenty feet of his cover, our hero sprang lightly forward on 
the sward to meet his foes. Two of the spears he received on 
his buckler, severing both shafts with a single blow of his keen 
and highly-tempered sword. As lie recovered from the effort, 
with an upward cut be met the raised arm of the club-man 
most in advance. Hand and club fell at his feet with the skil- 
ful touch. Making a sweep with the weapon in his front, 
its point seamed the breasts of the two astonished spears- 
men, whose distance alone saved them from more serious 
injuries. 

This rapid and unlooked-for execution struck the assailants 
with awe and dread. Never before had they witnessed the 
power of metal as used in war ; and the sudden amputation of 
the arm struck them as something miraculous. Even the 
ferocious Carib fell back in dismay, and Luis felt hopes of vic- 
tory. This was the first occasion on which the Spaniards had 
come to blows with the mild inhabitants of the islands they 
had discovered, though it is usual with the historians to refer to 
an incident of still latter occurrence, as the commencement of 
strife, the severe privacy which has ever been thrown over the 
connection of Don Luis with the expedition, having completely 
baffled their slight and superficial researches. Of course, the 
efficiency of a weapon like that used by our hero, was as novel 
to the Haytians as it was terrific. 

At this instant a shout among the assailants, and the ap- 
pearance of a fresh body of the invaders, with a tall and com- 
manding chief at their head, announced the arrival of Caonabo 
in person. This warlike cacique was soon made acquainted 
with the state of affairs, and it was evident that the prowess of 
our hero struck him as much with admiration as with wonder. 
After a few minutes, he directed his followers to fall back to a 
greater distance, and, laying aside his club, he advanced fear- 
lessly toward Luis, making signs of amity. 



402 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Wlien the two adversaries met, it was with mutual respect 
and confidence. The Carib made a short and vehement speech, 
in which the only word that was intelligible to our hero, was 
the name of the beautiful young Indian. By this time Ozema 
had also advanced, as if eager to speak, and her rude suitor 
turned to her, with an appeal that was passionate, if not elo- 
quent. He laid his hand frequently on his heart, and his voice 
became soft and persuasive. Ozema replied earnestly, and in 
the quick manner of one whose resolution was settled. At the 
close of her speech, the color mounted to the temples of the 
ardent girl, and, as if purposely to make her meaning under- 
stood by our hero, she ended by saying, in Spanish — 

" Caonabo — no — no — no ! — Luis — Luis !" 

The aspect of the hurricane of the tropics is not darker, or 
more menacing, than the scowl with which the Carib chief 
heard this unequivocal rejection of his suit, accompanied, as it 
was, by so plain a demonstration in favor of the stranger. "Wav- 
ing his hand in defiance, he strode back to his people, and 
issued orders for a fresh assault. 

This time, a tempest of arrows preceded the rush, and Luis 
was fain to seek his former cover behind the rocks. Indeed, 
this was the only manner in which he could save the life of 
Ozema ; the devoted girl resolutely persevering in standing be- 
fore his body, in the hope it would shield him from his enemies. 
There had been some words of reproach from Caonabo to the 
Carib chief who had retreated from the first attack, and the air 
was yet filled with arrows, as this man rushed forward, singly, 
to redeem his name. Luis met him, firm as the rock behind 
him. The shock was violent, and the blow that fell on the 
buckler would have crushed an arm less inured to such rude 
encounters ; but it glanced obliquely from the shield, and the 
club struck the earth with the weight of a beetle. Our hero saw 
that all now depended on a deep impression. His sword flashed 
in the bright sun, and the head of the Carib tumbled by the side 
of his club, actually leaving the body erect for an instant, so keen 
was the weapon, and so dexterous had been the blow. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 403 

Twenty savages were on the spring, but they stopped like 
men transfixed, at this unexpected sight. Caonabo, however, 
undaunted even when most surprised, roared out his orders like 
a maddened bull, and the wavering crowd was again about to 
advance, when the loud report of an arquebuse was heard, fol- 
lowed by the whistling of its deadly missives. A second Hay- 
tian fell dead in his tracks. It exceeded the powers of savage 
endurance to resist this assault, which, to their uninstructed 
minds, appeared to come from heaven. In two minutes, nei- 
ther Caonabo nor any of his followers w r ere visible. As they 
rushed down the hill, Sancho appeared from a cover, carrying 
the arquebuse, which he had taken the precaution to reload. 

The circumstances did not admit of delay. Not a being of 
Mattinao's tribe was to be seen in any direction ; and Luis made 
no doubt that they had all fled. Determined to save Ozema at 
every hazard, he now took his way to the river, in order to es- 
cape in one of the canoes. In passing through the town, it 
was seen that not a house had been plundered ; and the circum- 
stance was commented on by the Spaniards, Luis pointing it 
out to his companion. 

"Caonabo — no — no — no — Ozema! — Ozema !" was the an- 
swer of the girl, who well knew the real object of the inroad. 

A dozen canoes lay at the landing, and five minutes sufficed 
for the fugitives to enter one and to commence their retreat. 
The current flowed toward the sea, and in a couple of hours 
they were on the ocean. As the wind blew constantly from 
the eastward, Sancho soon rigged an apology for a sail, and an 
hour before the sun set, the party landed on a point that con- 
cealed them from the bay ; Luis being mindful of the admiral's 
injunction, to conceal his excursion, lest others might claim a 
similar favor. 



404 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

" Three score and ten I can remember well, 
Within the volume of which time I have seen 
Hours dreadful, and things strange, but this sore sight 
Hath trifled former knowings." 

MACBETJI. 

A sight that struck our hero with a terror and awe, almost 
as great as those experienced by the ignorant Haytians at the 
report and effect of the arquebuse, awaited him, as he came in 
view of the anchorage. The Santa Maria, that vessel of the 
admiral, which he had left only four days before in her gallant 
array and pride, lay a stranded wreck on the sands, with fallen 
masts, broken sides, and all the other signs of nautical destruc- 
tion. The Nina was anchored in safety, it is true, at no great 
distance, but a sense of loneliness and desertion came over the 
young man, as he gazed at this small craft, which was little more 
than a felucca, raised to the rank of a ship for the purposes of 
the voyage. The beach was covered with stores, and it was 
evident that the Spaniards and the people of Guacanagari toiled 
in company, at the construction of a sort of fortress ; an omen 
that some great change had come over the expedition. Ozema 
was immediately left in the house of a native, and the two ad- 
venturers hurried forward to join their friends, and to ask an 
explanation of what they had seen. 

Columbus received his young friend kindly, but in deep 
affliction. The manner in which the ship was lost has been 
often told, and Luis learned that the Nina being too small to 
carry all away, a colony was to be left in the fortress, while the 
remainder of the adventurers hastened back to Spain. Guacan- 
agari had shown himself full of sympathy, and was kindness it- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 405 

self, while every one had been too much occupied with the 
shipwreck to miss our hero, or to hearken to rumors of an event 
as common as an inroad from a Carib chief, to carry off an In- 
dian beauty. Perhaps, the latter event was still too recent to 
have reached the shores. 

The week that succeeded the return of Luis was one of active 
exertion. The Santa Maria was wrecked on the morning of 
Christmas day, 1492, and on that of the 4th of January follow- 
ing, the Nina was ready to depart on her return voyage. 
During this interval, Luis had seen Ozema but once, and then 
he had found her sorrowing, mute, and resembling a withered 
flower, that retained its beauty even while it drooped. On the 
evening of the third, however, while lingering near the new- 
finished fortress, he was summoned by Sancho to another inter- 
view. To the surprise of our hero, he found the young cacique 
with his sister. 

Although language was w T anting, on this occasion, the parties 
easily understood each other. Ozema was no longer sorrowful, 
and borne down with grief: the smile and the laugh came 
easily from her young and buoyant spirits, and Luis thought he 
had never seen her so winning and lovely. She had arranged her 
scanty toilet with Indian coquetry, and the bright, warm color 
of her cheeks added new lustre to her brilliant eyes. Her light, 
agile form, a model of artless grace, seemed so ethereal as 
scarce to touch the earth. The secret of this sudden change 
was not long hid from Luis. The brother and sister, after dis- 
cussing all their dangers and escapes, and passing in review the 
character and known determination of Caonabo, had come to 
the conclusion that there was no refuge for Ozema but in 
flight. What most determined 'the brother to consent that his 
sister should accompany the strangers to their distant home, it 
would be useless to inquire ; but the motive of Ozema herself, 
can be no secret to the reader. It was known that the admiral 
was desirous of carrying to Spain a party of natives ; and three 
females, one of whom was of Ozema' s rank, had already con- 
sented to go. This chieftain's wife was not only known to 



406 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Ozema, but she was a kinswoman. Every thing seemed propi- 
tious to the undertaking ; and as a voyage to Spain was still a 
mystery to the natives, who regarded it as something like an 
extended passage from one of their islands to another, no formi- 
dable difficulties presented themselves to the imagination of 
either the cacique or his sister. 

This proposition took our hero by surprise. He was both 
flattered and pleased at the self-devotion of Ozema, even while 
it troubled him. Perhaps there were moments when he a little 
distrusted himself. Still Mercedes reigned in his heart, and he 
shook off the feeling as a suspicion that a true knight could not 
entertain without offering an insult to his own honor. On 
second thoughts, there were fewer objections to the scheme 
than he at first fancied ; and, after an hour's discussion, he left 
the place to go and consult the admiral. 

Columbus was still at the fortress, and he heard our hero 
gravely and with interest. Once or twice Luis' eyes dropped 
under the searching glance of his superior ; but, on the whole, 
he acquitted himself of the task he had undertaken, with credit. 

" The sister of a cacique, thou say'st, Don Luis," returned 
the admiral, thoughtfully. " The virgin sister of a cacique I" 

u Even so, Don Christopher; and of a grace, birth, and 
beauty, that will give our Lady, the Queen, a most exalted 
idea of the merits of our discovery." 

"Thou wilt remember, Seiior Conde, that naught but purity 
may be offered to purity. Dona Isabella is a model for all 
queens, and mothers, and wives ; and I trust nothing to offend 
her angelic mind can ever come from her favored servants. 
There has been no deception practised on this wild girl, to lead 
her into sin and misery ?" 

" Don Christopher, you can scarce think this of me. Dona 
Mercedes herself is not more innocent than the girl I mean, nor 
could her brother feel more solicitude in her fortunes, than I 
feel. When the king and queen have satisfied their curiosity, 
and dismissed her, I propose to place her under the care of the 
Lady of Valverde." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 407 

"The rarer the specimens that we take, the better, Luis. 
This wil gratify the sovereigns, and cause them to think favor- 
ably of our discoveries, as thou say'st. It might be done with- 
out inconvenience. The Nina is small, of a verity, but we gain 
much in leaving this large party behind us. I have given up 
the principal cabin to the other females, since thou and I can 
fare rudely for a few weeks. Let the girl come, and see thou to 
her comfort and convenience." 

This settled the matter. Early next morning Ozema em- 
barked, carrying with her the simple wealth of an Indian prin- 
cess, among which the turban was carefully preserved. Her 
relative had an attendant, who sufficed for both. Luis paid 
great attention to the accommodations, in which both comfort 
and privacy were duly respected. The parting with Mattinao 
was touchingly tender, for the domestic affections appear to 
have been much cultivated among these simple-minded and 
gentle people ; but the separation, it was supposed, would be 
short, and Ozema had, again and again, assured her brother that 
her repugnance to Caonabo, powerful cacique as he might be, 
was unconquerable. Each hour increased it, strengthening her 
resolution never to become his wife. The alternative was to 
secrete herself in the island, or to make this voyage to Spain ; 
and there was glory as well as security in the latter. With this 
consolation, the brother and sister parted. 

Columbus had intended to push his discoveries much further, 
before he returned to Europe ; but the loss of the Santa Maria, 
and the desertion of the Pinta, reduced him to the necessity of 
bringing the expedition to a close, lest, by some untoward acci- 
dent, all that had actually been achieved should be forever lost 
to the world. Accordingly, in the course of the 4th of Janua- 
ry, 1493, he made sail to the eastward, holding his course along 
the shores of Hayti. His great object now was to get back to 
Spain before his remaining little bark should fail him, whon 
his own name would perish with the knowledge of his discov- 
eries. Fortunately, however, on the 6th, the Pinta was seen 
coming down before the wind, Martin Alonzo Pinzon having 



408 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

effected one of the purposes for which he had parted company, 
that of securing a quantity of gold, but failed in discovering 
any mines, which is believed to have been his principal motive. 

It is not important to the narrative to relate the details of the 
meeting that followed. Columbus received the offending Pin- 
zon with prudent reserve, and, hearing his explanations, he 
directed him to prepare the Pinta for the return passage. 
After wooding and watering accordingly, in a bay favorable to 
such objects, the two vessels proceeded to the eastward in com- 
pany ; still following the north shore of Hayti, Espanola, or 
Little Spain, as the island had been named by Columbus.* 

It was the 16th of the month, ere the adventurers finally 
took their leave of this beautiful spot. They had scarcely got 
clear of the land, steering a north-easterly course, when the 
favorable winds deserted them, and they were again met by the 
trades. The weather was moderate, however, and by keeping 
the two vessels on the best tack, by the 10th of February, the 
admiral, making sundry deviations from a straight course, how- 
ever, had stretched across the track of ocean in which these 
constant breezes prevailed, and reached a parallel of latitude as 
high as Palos, his port. In making this long slant, the Nina, 
contrary to former experience, was much detained by the dull 
sailing of the Pinta, which vessel, having sprung her after-mast, 
was unable to bear a press of sail. The light breeze also favored 
the first, which had ever been deemed a fast craft in smooth 
water and gentle gales. 

* The fortunes of this beautiful island furnish a remarkable proof of the manner in 
which abussc are made, by the providence of God, to produce their own punishments. 
This island, which is about two-thirds the size of the state of New York, was the seat 
of Spanish authority, in the New World, for many years. The mild aborigines, who 
Avere numerous and happy when discovered, were literally exterminated by the cruel- 
ties of their new masters; and it was found necessary to import negroes from Africa, 
to toil in the cane-fields. Toward the middle of the sixteenth century, it is said that 
two hundred of the aborigines were not to be found in the island, although Ovando 
Aad decoyed no less than forty thousand from the Bahamas, to supply the places of the 
dead, as early as 1513 1 At a later day, Espanola passed into the hands of the French, 
and all know the terrible events by which it has gone into the exclusive possession of 
the descendants of the children of Africa. All that has been said of the influence of 
the white population of this country, as connected with our own Indians, sinks into 
insignificance, as compared with these astounding facts. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 409 

Most of the phenomena of the outward passage were observed 
on the homeward ; but the tunny-fish no longer excited hopes, 
nor did the sea-weed awaken fears. These familiar objects were 
successfully, but slowly passed, and the variable winds were hap- 
pily struck again in the first fortnight. Here the traverses neces- 
sarily became more and more complicated, until the pilots, 
unused to so long and difficult a navigation, in which they 
received no aids from either land or water, got confused in their 
reckonings, disputing hotly among themselves concerning their 
true position. 

" Thou hast heard to-day, Luis," said the admiral, smiling, in 
one of his renewed conferences with our hero, " the contentions 
of Vicente Yanez, with his brother, Martin Alonzo, and the 
other pilots, touching our distance from Spain. These constant 
shifts of wind have perplexed the honest mariners, and they 
fancy themselves in any part of the Atlantic, but that in which 
they really are !" 

" Much depends on you, Seiior; not only our safety, but 
the knowledge of our great discoveries." 

" Thou say'st true, Don Luis. Vicente Yanez, Sancho Euiz, 
Pedro Alonzo Mno, and Bartolemeo Roldan, to say nothing of 
the profound calculators in the Pinta, place the vessels in the 
neighborhood of Madeira, which is nearer to Spain, by a hun- 
dred and fifty leagues, than the truth would show. These 
honest people have followed their wishes, rather than their 
knowledge of the ocean and the heavens." 

" And you, Don Christopher, where do you place the cara- 
vels, since there is no motive to conceal the truth?" 

" We are south of Flores, young Count, fully twelve degrees 
west of the Canaries, and in the latitude of Nafe, in Africa. 
But I would that they should be bewildered, until the right of 
possession to our discoveries be made a matter of certainty. 
Not one of these men now doubts his ability to do all I have 
done, and yet neither is able to grope his way back again, after 
crossing this track of water to Asia !" 

Luis understood the admiral., and the size of the vessels ren* 



410 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

dering the communication of secrets hazardous, the conversa- 
tion changed. 

Up to this time, though the winds were often variable, the 
weather had been good. A few squalls had occurred, as com- 
monly happens at sea, but they had proved to be neither long 
nor severe. All this was extremely grateful to Columbus, who, 
now he had effected the great purpose for which he might have 
been said to live, felt some such concern lest the important 
secret should be lost to the rest of mankind, as one who carries 
a precious object through scenes of danger experiences for the 
safety of his charge. A change, however, was at hand, and at 
the very moment when the great navigator began to hope the 
best, he was fated to experience the severest of all his trials. 

As the vessels advanced north, the weather became cooler, as 
a matter of course, and the w T inds stronger. During the night 
of the 11th of February, the caravels made a great run on their 
course, gaining more than a hundred miles between sunset and 
sunrise. The next morning many birds were in sight, from 
which fact Columbus believed himself quite near the Azores, 
while the pilots fancied they were in the immediate vicinity of 
Madeira. The following day the wind was less favorable, 
though strong, and a heavy sea had got up. The properties of 
the little Nina now showed themselves to advantage, for, ere 
the turn of the day, she had to contend with such a struggle of 
the elements, as few in her had ever before witnessed. For- 
tunately, all that consummate seamanship could devise to ren- 
der her safe and comfortable had been done, and she was in as 
perfect a state of preparation for a tempest, as circumstances 
would allow. The only essential defect was her unusual light- 
ness, since, most of her stores as well as her water being nearly 
exhausted, her draught of water was materially less than it 
should have been. The caravel was so small, that this circum- 
stance, which is of little consequence to the safety of large ves- 
sels, got to be one of consideration in a craft whose means of 
endurance did not place her above the perils of squalls. The 
reader will understand the distinction better when he is told 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 411 

that ships of size can only lose their spars by sudden gusts of 
wind, seldom being thrown on their beam ends, as it is termed, 
unless by the power of the waves ; whereas, smaller craft incur 
the risk of being capsized, when the spread of their canvas is 
disproportioned to their stability. Although the seamen of the 
Nina perceived this defect in their caravel, which, in a great 
measure, proceeded from the consumption of the fresh water, 
they hoped so soon to gain a haven, that no means had been 
taken to remedy the evil. 

Such was the state of things, as the sun set on the night of the 
12th of February, 1493. As usual, Columbus was on the poop, 
vessels of all sizes then carrying these clumsy excrescences, 
though this of the Nina was so small as scarcely to deserve the 
name. Luis was at his side, and both watched the aspect of the 
heavens and the ocean in grave silence. Never before had our 
hero seen the elements in so great commotion, and the ad- 
miral had just remarked that even he had not viewed many 
nights as threatening. There is a solemnity about a sunset at 
sea, when the clouds appear threatening, and the omens of a 
storm are brooding, that is never to be met with on the land. 
The loneliness of a ship, struggling through a waste of dreary- 
looking water, contributes to the influence of the feelings that 
are awakened, as there appears to be but one object on which 
the wild efforts of the storm can expend themselves. All else 
seem to be in unison to aid the general strife ; ocean, heavens, 
and the air, being alike accessories in the murky picture. When 
the wintry frowns of February are thrown around all, the gloomy 
hues of the scene are deepened to their darkest tints. 

" This is a brooding night-fall, Don Luis," Columbus remark- 
ed, just as the last rays that the sun cast upward on the stormy- 
looking clouds disappeared from their ragged outlines — "I have 
rarely seen another as menacing." 

" One has a double confidence in the care of God, while sail- 
ing under your guidance, Senior ; first in his goodness, and next 
in the knowledge of his agent's skilfulness. " 

" The power of the Almighty is sufficient to endue the 



412 MEKCEDES OF CASTILE. 

feeblest mortal with, all fitting skill, when it is his divine will to 
spare ; or to rob the most experienced of their knowledge, when 
his anger can only be appeased by the worldly destruction of 
his creatures." 

" You look upon the night as portentous, Don Christopher !" 

"I have seen omens as ill, though very seldom. Had not 
the caravel this burdensome freight, I might view our situation 
less anxiously." 

"You surprise me, sir Admiral! the pilots have regretted 
that our bark is so light." 

"True, as to material substance; but it beareth a cargo of 
knowledge, Luis, that it would be grievous to see wasted on 
these vacant waters. Dost thou not perceive how fast and 
gloomily the curtain of night gathereth about us, and the man- 
ner in which the Nina is rapidly getting to be our whole world? 
Even the Pinta is barely distinguishable, like a shapeless 
shadow on the foaming billows, serving rather as a beacon to 
warn us of our own desolation, than as a consort to cheer us 
with her presence and companionship." 

" I have never known you thus moody, excellent Senor, on 
account of the aspect of the weather !" 

" 'Tis not usual with me, young lord ; but my heart is loaded 
with its glorious secret. Behold ! — dost thou remark that 
further sign of the warring of the elements ?" 

The admiral, as he spoke, was standing with his face toward 
Spain, while his companion's gaze was fastened on the porten- 
tous-looking horizon of the west, around which still lingered 
sufficient light to render its frowns as chilling as they were visi- 
ble. He had not seen the change that drew the remark from 
Columbus, but, turning quickly, he asked an explanation. 
Notwithstanding the season, the horizon at the north-east had 
been suddenly illuminated by a flash of lightning, and even 
while the admiral was relating the fact, and pointing out the 
quarter of the heavens in which the phenomenon had appeared, 
two more flashes followed each other in quick succession. 

" Senor Vicente" — called out Columbus, leaning forward in 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 413 

a way to overlook a group of dusky figures that was collected 
on the half-deck beneath him — " Is Senor Vicente Yanez of 
your number ?" 

" I am here, Don Christopher, and note the omen. It is the 
sign of even more wind." 

" We shall be visited with a tempest, worthy Vicente ; and it 
will come from that quarter of the heavens, or its opposite. 
Have we made all sure in the caravel?" 

" I know not what else is to be done, Senor Almirante. 
Our canvas is at the lowest, every thing is well lashed, and 
we carry as little aloft as can be spared. Sancho Euiz, look 
you to the tarpaulings, lest we ship more water than will be 
safe." 

" Look well to our light, too, that our consort may not part 
from us in the darkness. This is no time for sleep, Vicente — 
place your most trusty men at the tiller." 

" Senor, they are selected with care. Sancho Mundo, and 
young Pepe of Moguer, do that duty, at present ; others as 
skilled await to relieve them, when their watch ends." 

" 'Tis well, good Pinzon — neither you nor I can close an eye 
to-night." 

The precautions of Columbus were not uncalled-for. About 
an hour after the unnatural flashes of lightning had been seen, 
the wind rose from the south-west, favorably as to direction, 
but fearfully as to force. Notwithstanding his strong desire to 
reach port, the admiral found it prudent to order the solitary 
sail that was set, to be taken in ; and most of the night the 
two caravels drove before the gale, under bare poles, heading 
to the north-east. We say both, for Martin Alonzo, practised 
as he was in stormy seas, and disposed as he was to act only 
for himself, now the great problem was solved, kept the Pinta 
so near the Nina, that few minutes passed without her being 
seen careering on the summit of a foaming sea, or settling 
bodily into the troughs, as she drove headlong before the 
tempest ; keeping side by side with her consort, however, as 
man clings to man in moments of dependency and peril 
IS 



411 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Thus passed the night of the 13th, the day bringing with it 
a more vivid picture of the whole scene, though it was thought 
that the wind somewhat abated in its force as the sun arose. 
Perhaps this change existed only in the imaginations of the 
mariners, the light usually lessening the appearance of danger, 
by enabling men to face it. Each caravel, however, set a little 
canvas, and both went foaming ahead, hurrying toward Spain 
with their unlooked-for tidings. As the day advanced, the 
fury of the gale sensibly lessened ; but as night drew on again, 
it returned with renewed force, more adverse, and compelling 
the adventurers to take in every rag of sail they had ventured 
to spread. Nor was this the worst. The caravels, by this 
time, had driven up into a tract of ocean where a heavy cross- 
sea was raging, the effects of some other gale that had recently 
blown from a different quarter. Both vessels struggled man- 
fully to lay up to their course, under these adverse circum- 
stances ; but they began to labor in a way to excite uneasiness 
in those who comprehended the fullest powers of the machines, 
and who knew whence the real sources of danger were derived. 
As night approached, Columbus perceived that the Pinta could 
not maintain her ground, the strain on her after-mast proving 
too severe to be borne, even without an inch of canvas spread. 
Keluctantly did he order the Nina to edge away toward her 
consort, separation, at such a moment, being the evil next to 
positive destruction. 

In this manner the night of the 14th drew around our lone 
and sea-girt adventurers. "What had been merely menace and 
omens the previous night, were now a dread reality. Colum- 
bus, himself, declared he had never known a bark to buffet 
a more furious tempest, nor did he affect to conceal from Luis 
the extent of his apprehensions. "With the pilots, and before 
the crew, he was serene, and even cheerful; but when alone 
with our hero, he became frank and humble. Still was the 
celebrated navigator always calm and firm. No unmanly com- 
plaint escaped him, though his very soul was saddened at the 
danger his great discoveries ran of being forever lost. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 4i5 

Sucli was the state of feeling that prevailed with the admiral, 
as he sat in his narrow cabin, in the first hours of that appalling 
night, watching for any change, relieving or disastrous, that 
might occur. The howling of the winds, which fairly scooped 
up, from the surface of the raging Atlantic, the brine in sheets, 
was barely audible amid the roar and rush of the waters. At 
times, indeed, when the caravel sunk helplessly between two 
huge waves, the fragment of sail she still carried would flap, 
and the air seemed hushed and still ; and then, again, as the 
buoyant machine struggled upward, like a drowning man who 
gains the surface by frantic efforts, it would seem as if the 
columns of air were about to bear her off before them, as light- 
ly as the driving spray. Even Luis, albeit little apt to take 
alarm, felt that their situation was critical, and his constitu- 
tional buoyancy of spirits had settled down in a thoughtful 
gravity, that was unusual with him. Had a column of a thou- 
sand hostile Moors stood before our hero, he would have 
thought rather of the means of overturning it than of escape ; 
but this warring of the elements admitted of no such relief. It 
appeared actually like contending with the Almighty. In such 
scenes, indeed, the bravest find no means of falling back on their 
resolution and intrepidity ; for the efforts of man seem insignifi- 
cant and bootless as opposed to the will and power of God. 

u, Tis a wild night, Senor," our hero observed calmly, pre- 
serving an exterior of more unconcern than he really felt. "To 
me this surpasseth all I have yet witnessed of the fury of a 
tempest." 

Columbus sighed heavily ; then he removed his hands from 
his face, and glanced about him, as if in search of the imple- 
ments he wanted. 

" Count of Llera," he answered, with dignity, " there re- 
maineth a solemn duty to perform. There is parchment in the 
draw on your side of this table, and here are the instruments 
for writing. Let us acquit ourselves of this important trust 
while time is yet mercifully given us, God alone knowing how 
long we have to live." 



416 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

Luis did not blanch at these portentous words, but he looked 
earnest and grave. Opening the draw, he took out the parch- 
ment and laid it upon the table. The admiral now seized a 
pen, beckoning to his companion to take another, and both 
commenced writing as well as the incessant motion of the light 
caravel would allow. The task was arduous, but it was clearly 
executed. As Columbus wrote a sentence, he repeated it to 
Luis, who copied it word for word, on his own piece of parch- 
ment. The substance of this record was the fact of the discov- 
eries made, the latitude and longitude of Espanola, with the 
relative positions of the other islands, and a brief account of 
what he had seen. The letter was directed to Ferdinand and 
Isabella. As soon as each had completed his account, the ad- 
miral carefully enveloped his missive in a covering of waxed 
cloth, Luis imitating him in all things. Each then took a large 
cake of wax, and scooping a hole in it, the packet was carefully 
secured in the interior, when it was covered with the substance 
that had been removed. Columbus now sent for the cooper of 
the vessel, who was directed to inclose each cake in a separate 
barrel. These vessels abound in ships ; and, ere many minutes, 
the two letters were securely inclosed in the empty casks. Each 
taking a barrel, the admiral and our hero now appeared again 
on the half-deck. So terrific was the night that no one slept, 
and most of the people of the Nina, men as well as officers, 
were crowded together on the gratings near the main-mast, 
where alone, with the exception of the still more privileged 
places, they considered themselves safe from being swept over- 
board. Indeed, even here they were constantly covered with 
the wash of the sea, the poop itself not being protected from 
rude visits of this nature. 

As soon as the admiral was seen again, his followers crowded 
round him, solicitous to hear his opinion, and anxious to learn 
his present object. To have told the truth would have been to 
introduce despair where hope had already nearly ceased ; and, 
merely intimating that he performed a religious vow, Columbus, 
with his own hands, cast his barrel into the hissing ocean. That 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 417 

of Luis was placed upon the poop, in the expectation that it 
would float, should the caravel sink. 

Three centuries and a half have rolled by since Columbus 
took this wise precaution, and no tidings have ever been ob- 
tained of that cask. Its buoyancy was such that it might con- 
tinue to float for ages. Covered with barnacles, it may still be 
drifting about the waste of waters, pregnant with its mighty 
revelations. It is possible, it may have been repeatedly rolled 
upon some sandy beach, and as frequently swept off again ; and 
it may have been passed unheeded on a thousand occasions, by 
different vessels, confounded with its vulgar fellows that are so 
often seen drifting about the ocean. Had it been found, it 
would have been opened ; and had it been opened by any civ- 
ilized man, it is next to impossible that an occurrence of so 
much interest should have been totally lost. 

This duty discharged, the admiral had leisure to look about 
him. The darkness was now so great, that, but for the little 
light that was disengaged from the troubled water, it would 
have been difficult to distinguish objects at the length of 
the caravel. No one, who has merely been at sea in a tall 
ship, can form any just idea of the situation of the Nina. This 
vessel, little more than a large felucca, had actually sailed from 
Spain with the latine rig, that is so common to the light coasters 
of southern Europe ; a rig that had only been altered in the 
Canaries. As she floated in a bay, or a river, her height above 
the water could not have exceeded four or five feet, and now 
that she was struggling with a tempest, in a cross sea, and pre- 
cisely in that part of the Atlantic where the rake of the winds is 
the widest, and the tumult of the waters the greatest, it seemed 
as if she were merely some aquatic animal, that occasionally 
rose to the surface to breathe. There were moments when the 
caravel appeared to be irretrievably sinking into the abyss of 
the ocean ; huge black mounds of water rising around her in all 
directions, the confusion in the waves having destroyed all the 
ordinary symmetry of the rolling billows. Although so much 
figurative language has been used, in speaking of mountainous 



418 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

waves, it would not be exceeding the literal truth to add 7 that 
the Nina's yards were often below the summits of the adjacent 
seas, which were tossed upward in so precipitous a manner, as 
to create a constant apprehension of their falling in cataracts on 
her gratings; for mid-ship-deck, strictly speaking, she had none. 
This, indeed, formed the great source of danger ; since one fall- 
ing wave might have filled the little vessel, and carried herewith 
all in her, hopelessly to the bottom. As it was, the crests of seas 
were constantly tumbling inboard, or shooting athwart the hull 
of the caravel, in sheets of glittering foam, though happily, 
never with sufficient power to overwhelm the buoyant fabric. 
At such perilous instants, the safety of the craft depended on the 
frail tarpaulings. Had these light coverings given way, two or 
three successive waves would infallibly have so far filled the 
hold, as to render the hull water-logged ; when the loss of the 
vessel would have followed as an inevitable consequence. 

The admiral had ordered Vicente Yaiiez to carry the foresail 
close reefed, in the hope of dragging the caravel through this chaos 
of waters, to a part of the ocean where the waves ran more reg- 
ularly. The general direction of the seas, too, so far as they 
could be said to have a general direction at all, had been re- 
spected, and the Nina had struggled onward — it might be better 
to say, waded onward — some five or six leagues, since the dis- 
appearance of the day, and found no change. It was getting to 
be near midnight-, and still the surface of the ocean presented 
the same wild aspect of chaotic confusion. Vicente Yanez ap- 
proached the admiral, and declared that the bark could no 
longer bear the rag of sail she carried. 

" The jerk, as we rise on the sea, goes near to pull the stern 
out of the craft," he said; " and the backward flap, as we settle 
into the troughs, is almost as menacing. The Nina will bear 
the canvas no longer, with safety." 

"Who has seen aught of Martin Alonzo within the hour?" 
demanded Columbus, looking anxiously in the direction in 
which the Pinta ought to be visible. " Thou hast lowered the 
lantern, Vicente Yanez." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 419 

"It would stand the hurricane no longer. From time to timo 
it hath been shown, and each signal hath been answered by my 
brother." 

" Let it be shown once more. This is a moment when the 
presence of a friend gladdens the soul, even though he be help- 
less as ourselves." 

The lantern was hoisted, and, after a steady gaze, a faint and 
distant light was seen glimmering in the rack of the tempest. 
The experiment was repeated, at short intervals, and as often 
w r as the signal answered, at increasing distances, until the light 
of their consort was finally lost altogether. 

" The Pinta's mast is too feeble to bear even its gear, in such 
a gale," observed Vicente Yancz ; " and my brother hath 
found it impossible to keep as near the wind as we have done. 
He goes off more to leeward." 

" Let the foresail be secured," answered Columbus, " as thou 
say'st. Our feeble craft can no longer bear these violent 
surges." 

Vicente Yanez now mustered a few of his ablest men, and 
went forward himself to see this order executed. At the same 
moment the helm was righted, and the caravel slowly fell off, 
until she got dead before the gale. The task of gathering in 
the canvas was comparatively easy, the yard being but a few 
feet above the deck, and little besides the clews being exposed. ' 
Still it required men of the firmest nerve and the readiest hands 
to venture aloft at such an instant. Sancho took one side of the 
mast and Pepe the other, both manifesting such qualities as 
mark the perfect seaman only. 

The caravel was now drifting at the mercy of the winds and 
waves, the term scudding being scarcely applicable to the mo- 
tion of a vessel so low, and which was so perfectly sheltered 
from the action of the wind by the height of the billows. Had 
the latter possessed their ordinary regularity, the low vessel 
must have been pooped ; but, in a measure, her exemption from 
this calamity was owing to an irregularity that was only the 
source of a new danger. Still, the Nina drove ahead, and that 



120 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

swiftly, though not with the velocity necessary to outstrip the 
chasing water, had the waves followed with their customary 
order and regularity. The cross seas defeated this ; wave 
meeting wave, actually sending those crests, which otherwise 
would have rolled over in combing foam, upward in terrific 
jets <Teau. 

This was the crisis of the danger. There was an hour when 
the caravel careered amid the chaotic darkness with a sort of 
headlong fury, not unfrequently dashing forward with her broad- 
side to the sea, as if the impatient stern was bent on overtaking 
the stem, and exposing all to the extreme jeopardy of receiving 
a flood of water on the beam. This imminent risk was only 
averted by the activity of the man at the helm, where Sancho 
toiled with all his skill and energy, until the sweat rolled from 
his brow, as if exposed again to the sun of the tropics. At 
length the alarm became so great and general, that a common 
demand was made to the admiral to promise the customary re- 
ligious oblations. For this purpose, all but the men at the helm 
assembled aft, and preparations were made to cast lots for the 
penance. 

" Ye are in the hands of God, my friends," said Columbus, 
" and it is meet that ye all confess your dependence on his good- 
ness, placing your security on his blessings and favor alone. In 
this cap which ye see in the hands of the Senor de Munos, are 
the same number of peas that we are of persons. One of these 
peas bears the mark of the Holy Cross, and he who shall draw 
forth this blessed emblem, stands pledged to make a pilgrimage 
to Santa Maria de Gaudalupe, bearing a waxen taper of five 
pounds weight. As the chiefest sinner among you, no less 
than as your admiral, the first trial shall be mine." 

Here Columbus put his hand into the cap, and on drawing 
forth a pea, and holding it to the lantern, it was found to bear 
on its surface the mark he had mentioned. 

" This is well, Senor," said one of the pilots; "but replace 
the pea, and let the chance be renewed for a still heavier pen- 
ance, and that at a shrine which is most in request with all good 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 421 

Christians ; I mean that of onr Lady of Loretto. One pilgrim- 
age to that shrine is worth two to any other." 

In moments of emergency, the religious sentiment is apt to 
be strong ; and this proposition was seconded with warmth. 
The admiral cheerfully consented ; and when all had drawn, the 
marked pea was found in the hands of a common seaman, of 
the name of Pedro de Villa ; one who bore no very good name 
for either piety or knowledge. 

"'Tis a weary and costly journey," grumbled the chosen 
penitent, " and cannot cheaply be made." 

"Heed it not, friend Pedro," answered Columbus ; "the bod- 
ily pains shall limit thy sufferings, for the cost of the journey 
shall be mine. This night groweth more and more terrific, good 
Bartolemeo Roldan." 

" That doth it, Senor Admiral, and I am little content with 
such a pilgrim as Pedro here, although it may seem as if heaven 
itself directed the choice. A mass in Santa Clara de Moguer, 
with a watcher all night in that chapel, will be of more account 
than your distant journeys made by such an one as he." 

This opinion wanted not for supporters among the seamen of 
Moguer, and a third trial was made to determine the person. 
Again the pea was withdrawn from the cap by the admiral. 
Still the clanger did not diminish, the caravel actually threaten- 
ing to roll over amid the turbulence of the waves. 

"We are too light, Vicente Yanez," said Columbus, "and, 
desperate as the undertaking seemeth, we must make as 
effort to fill our empty casks with sea-water. Let hose be 
carefully introduced beneath the tarpaulings, and send careful 
hands below to make sure that the water does not get into the 
hold instead of the casks." 

This order was obeyed, and several hours passed in efforts to 
execute this duty. The great difficulty was in protecting the 
men who raised the water from the sea, for, while the whole 
element was raging in such confusion around them, it was no 
easy matter to secure a single drop in a useful manner. Patience 
and perseverance, however, prevailed in the end, and, ere the 



422 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



light returned, so many empty casks had been filled, as evident- 
ly to aid the steadiness of the vessel. Toward morning it 
rained in torrents, and the wind shifted from south to west, 
losing but little of its force, however. At this juncture the 
foresail was again got on the bark, and she was dragged by 
it, through a tremendous sea, a few miles to the eastward. 

When the day dawned, the scene was changed for the 
better. The Pinta was nowhere to be seen, and most in the 
Nina believed she had gone to the bottom. But the clouds 
had opened a little, and a sort of mystical brightness rested on 
the ocean, which was white with foam, and still hissing with 
fury. The waves, however, were gradually getting to be more 
regular, and the seamen no longer found it necessary to lash 
themselves to the vessel, in order to prevent being washed over- 
board. Additional sail was got on the caravel, and, as her mo- 
tion ahead increased, she became steadier, and more certain in 
all her movements. 







MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 423 



CHAPTER XXV. 

"For now, from sight of land diverted clear, 
They drove uncertain o'er the pathless deep ; 
Nor gave the adverse gale due course to steer, 
Nor durst they the design'd direction keep : 
The gathering tempest quickly raged so high, 
The wave-encompass 1 d boat but faintly reach'd my eye." 

Vision of Patience. 

Such was the state of things on the morning of the 15th, and 
shortly after the sun arose, the joyful cry of land was heard 
from aloft. It is worthy of being mentioned that this land was 
made directly ahead, so accurate were all the admiral's calcula- 
tions, and so certain did he feel of his position on the chart. 
A dozen opinions, however, prevailed among the pilots and 
people concerning this welcome sight ; some fancying it the 
continent of Europe, while others believed it to be Madeira. 
Columbus, himself, publicly announced it to be one of the 
Azores. 

Each hour was lessening the distance between this welcome 
spot of earth and the adventurers, when the gale chopped di- 
rectly round, bringing the island dead to windward. Through- 
out a long and weary day the little bark kept turning up 
against the storm, in order to reach this much-desired haven, 
but the heaviness of the swell and the foul wind made their 
progress both slow and painful. The sun set in wintry gloom, 
again, and the land still lay in the wrong quarter, and appar- 
ently at a distance that was unattainable. Hour after hour 
passed, and still, in the darkness, the Nina was struggling to 
get nearer to the spot where the land had been seen. Colum- 
bus never left his post throughout all these anxious scenes, for 



424 MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 

to him it seemed as if the fortunes of his discoveries were now 
suspended, as it might be, by a hair. Our hero was less 
watchful, but even he began to feel more anxiety in the result, 
as the moment approached when the fate of the expedition was 
to be decided. 

As the sun arose, every eye turned inquiringly around the 
watery view, and, to the common disappointment, no land was 
visible. Some fancied all had been illusion, but the admiral be- 
lieved they had passed the island in the darkness, and he hove 
about, with a view to stand further south. This change in the 
course had not been made more than an hour or two, when 
land was again dimly seen astern, and in a quarter where it 
could not have been previously perceived. For this island the 
caravel tacked, and until dark she was beating up for it, against 
a strong gale and a heavy sea. Night again drew around her, 
and the land once more vanished in the gloom. 

At the usual hour of the previous night, the people of the 
Nina had assembled to chant the salve fac, regina, or the even- 
ing hymn to the Virgin, for it is one of the touching incidents 
of this extraordinary voyage, that these rude sailors first car- 
ried with them into the unknown wastes of the Atlantic the 
songs of their religion, and the Christian's prayers. While 
thus employed, a light had been made to leeward, which was 
supposed to be on the island first seen, thus encouraging the 
admiral in his belief that he was in the centre of a group, and 
that by keeping well to windward, he would certainly find 
himself in a situation to reach a port in the morning. That 
morning, however, had produced no other change than the one 
noted, and he was now preparing to pass another night, or that 
of the 17th, in uncertainty, when the cry of land ahead sudden- 
ly cheered the spirits of all in the vessel. 

The Nina stood boldly in, and oefore midnight she was near 
enough to the shore to let go an anchor ; so heavy were both 
wind and sea, however, that the cable parted, thus rejecting 
them, as it were, from the regions to which they properly be- 
longed. Sail was made, and the effort to get to windward 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 425 

renewed, and by daylight the caravel was enabled to run in and 
get an anchorage on the north side of the island. Here the 
wearied and almost exhausted mariners learned that Columbus 
was right, as usual, and that they had reached the island of St. 
Mary, one of the Azores. 

It does not belong to this tale to record all the incidents that 
occurred while the Nina lay at this port. They embraced an 
attempt to seize the caravel, on the part of the Portuguese, 
who, as they had been the last to harass the admiral on his 
departure from the old world, were the first to beset him on 
his return. All their machinations failed, however, and after 
having the best portion of his crew in their power, and actually 
having once sailed from the island without the men, the admi- 
ral finally arranged the matter, and took his departure for Spain, 
with all his people on board, on the 24th of the month. 

Providence seemed to favor the passage of the adventurers, 
for the first few days ; the wind being favorable and the sea 
smooth. Between the morning of the 24th and the evening 
of the 26th, the caravel had made nearly a hundred leagues 
directly on her course to Palos, when she was met by a foul 
wind and another heavy sea. The gale now became violent 
again, though sufficiently favorable to allow them to steer east, 
a little northerly, occasionally hauling more ahead. The weath- 
er was rough, but as the admiral knew he was drawing in 
with the continent of Europe, he did not complain, cheering his 
people with the hopes of a speedy arrival. In this manner the 
time passed until the turn of the day, Saturday, March 2d, when 
Columbus believed himself to be within a hundred miles of the 
coast of Portugal, the long continuance of the scant southerly 
winds having set him thus far north. 

The night commenced favorably, the caravel struggling ahead 
through a tremendous sea that was sweeping down from the 
south, having the wind abeam, blowing so fresh as to cause the 
sails to be reduced within manageable size. The Nina was an 
excellent craft, as had been thoroughly proved, and she was now 
steadier than when first assailed by the tempests, her pilots hav- 



426 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

ing filled still more of the casks than they had been able to do 
during the late storm. 

" Thou hast lived at the helm, Sancho Mundo, since the late 
gales commenced," said the admiral, cheerfully, as, about the 
last hour of the first watch, he passed near the post of the old 
mariner. "It is no small honor to hold that station in the 
cruel gales we have been fated to endure." 

" I so consider it, Senor Don Almirante ; and I hope their 
illustrious and most excellent Highnesses, the two sovereigns, 
will look upon it with the same eyes, so fer as the weight of the 
duty is concerned." 

" And why not as respects the honor, friend Sancho ?" put 
in Luis, who had become a sworn friend of the seaman, since 
the rescue of the rocks. 

" Honor, Senor Master Pedro, is cold food, and sits ill on a 
poor man's stomach. One dobla is worth two dukedoms to 
such a man as I am, since the dobla would help to gain me re- 
spect, whereas the dukedoms would only draw down ridicule 
upon my head. No, no — Master Pedro, your worship, give me 
a pocket full of gold, and leave honors to such as have a fancy 
for them. If a man must be raised in the world, begin at the 
beginning, or lay a solid foundation ; after which he may be 
made a knight of St. James, if the sovereigns have need of his 
name to make out their list." 

" Thou art too garrulous for a helmsman, Sancho, though so ex- 
cellent otherwise," observed the admiral, gravely. "Look to thy 
course ; doblas will not be wanting, when the voyage is ended." 

" Many thanks, Senor Almirante ; and, as a proof that my 
eyes are not shut, even though the tongue wags, I will just de- 
sire your Excellency, and the pilots, to study that rag of a cloud 
that is gathering up here, at the south-west, and ask yourselves 
if it means evil or good." 

"By the mass! the man is right, Don Christopher!" ex- 
claimed Bartolemeo Eoldan, who was standing near; "that is 
a most sinister-looking cloud, and is not unlike those that give 
birth to the white squalls of Africa." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 427 

"See to it — see to it — good Bartolemeo," returned Colum- 
bus, hastily. " We have, indeed, counted too much on our 
good fortune, and have culpably overlooked the aspect of the 
heavens. Let Yicente Yanez and all our people be called ; we 
may have need of them." 

Columbus now ascended to the poop, where he got a wider 
and a better view of the ocean and the skies. The signs were, 
indeed, as portentous as they had been sudden in their appear- 
ance. The atmosphere was filled with a white mist, that resem- 
bled a light smoke, and the admiral had barely time to look 
about him, when a roar that resembled the trampling of a thou- 
sand horses passing a bridge at full speed, came rushing down 
with the wind. The ocean was heard hissing, as is usual at 
such moments, and the tempost burst upon the little bark, as if 
envious demons were determined she should never reach Spain 
with the glorious tidings she bore. 

A report like that of a heavy discharge of musketry, was the 
first signal that the squall had struck the Nina. It came from 
the rent canvas, every sail having given way at the same in- 
stant. The caravel heeled until the water reached her masts, 
and there was a breathless instant, when the oldest seaman 
feared that she would be forced over entirely upon her side. 
Had not the sails split, this calamity might truly have occurred. 
Sancho, too, had borne the tiller up in season, and when the 
Nina recovered from the shock, she almost flew out of the wa- 
ter as she drove before the blast. 

This was the commencement of a new gale, which even sur 
passed in violence that from which they had so recently escaped. 
For the first hour, awe and disappointment almost paralyzed 
the crew, as nothing was or could be done to relieve them from 
the peril they were in. The vessel was already scudding — the 
last resource of seamen — and even the rags of the canvas were 
torn, piece by piece, from the spars, sparing the men the efforts 
that would have been necessary to secure them. In this crisis, 
again the penitent people resorted to their religious rites ; and 
again it fell to the lot of the admiral to make a visit to some 



428 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

favorite shrine. In addition, the whole crew made a vow to 
fast on bread and water, the first Saturday after they should 
arrive. 

"It is remarkable, Don Christopher," said Luis, when the two 
were again alone on the poop ; " it is remarkable that these lots 
should fall so often on you. Thrice have you been selected by 
Providence to be an instrument of thankfulness and penitence. 
This cometh of your exceeding faith !" 

"Say, rather, Luis, that it cometh of my exceeding sins. 
My pride, alone, should draw down upon me stronger rebukes 
than these. I fear me, I had forgotten that I was merely an 
agent chosen by God, to work his own great ends, and was fall- 
ing into the snares of Satan, by fancying that I, of my own wis- 
dom and philosophy, had done this great exploit, which cometh 
so truly of God." 

"Do you believe us in danger, Senor?" 

" Greater hazard besets us now, Don Luis, than hath be- 
fallen us since we left Palos. We are driving toward the con- 
tinent, which cannot be thirty leagues distant ; and, as thou 
seest, the ocean is becoming more troubled every hour. Hap- 
pily, the night is far advanced, and with the light we may find 
the means of safety." 

The day did reappear as usual ; for whatever disturbances 
occur on its surface, the earth continues its daily revolutions in 
the sublimity of its vastness, affording, at each change, to the 
mites on its surface, the indubitable proofs that an omnipotent 
power reigns over all its movements. The light, however, 
brought no change in the aspects of the ocean and sky. The 
wind blew furiously, and the Nina struggled along amid the 
chaos of waters, driving nearer and nearer to the continent that 
lay before her. 

About the middle of the afternoon, signs of land became 
quite apparent, and no one doubted the vicinity of the vessel 
to the shores of Europe. Nevertheless, naught was visible but 
the raging ocean, the murky sky, and the sort of supernatural 
light with which the atmosphere is so often charged in a 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 429 

tempest. The spot where the sun set, though known by means 
of the compass, could not be traced by the eye ; and again 
night closed on the wild, wintry scene, as if the little caravel 
was abandoned by hope as well as by day. To add to the 
apprehensions of the people, a high cross sea was running ; 
and, as ever happens with vessels so small, in such circum- 
stances, tons' weight of water were constantly falling inboard, 
threatening destruction to the gratings and their frail coverings 
of tarred cloth. 

" This is the most terrible night of all, son Luis," said Co- 
lumbus, about an hour after the darkness had drawn around 
them. "If we escape this night, well may we deem ourselves 
favored of God !" 

" And yet you speak calmly, Seiior ; as calmly as if your 
heart was filled with hope. ,, 

" The seaman that cannot command his nerves and voice, 
even in the utmost peril, hath mistaken his calling. But I feel 
calm, Luis, as well as seem calm. God hath us in his keeping, 
and will do that which most advanceth his own holy will. My 
boys — my two poor boys trouble me sorely ; but even the fath- 
erless are not forgotten !" 

"If we perish, Senor, the Portuguese will remain mas- 
ters of our secret : to them only is it now known, ourselves 
excepted, since, for Martin Alonzo, I should think, there is lit- 
tle hope." 

" This is another source of grief; yet have I taken such steps 
as will probably put their Highnesses on the maintenance of 
their rights. The rest must be trusted to heaven." 

At that moment was heard the startling cry of " land." 
This word, which so lately would have been the cause of sudden 
bursts of joy, was now the source of new uneasiness. Al- 
though the night was dark, there were moments when the 
gloom opened, as it might be, for a mile or two around the 
vessel, and when objects as prominent as a coast could be seen 
with sufficient distinctness. Both Columbus and our hero hast- 
ened to the forward part of the caravel, at this cry, though even 



430 . MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

this common movement was perilous, in order to obtain the 
best possible view of the shore. It was, indeed, so near, that 
all on board heard, or fancied they heard, the roar of the surf 
against the rocks. That it was Portugal, none doubted, and 
to stand on in the present uncertainty of their precise position, 
or without a haven to enter, would be inevitable destruction. 
There remained only the alternative to ware with the caravel's 
head off shore, and endeavor to keep an offing until morning. 
Columbus had no sooner mentioned this necessity, than Vicente 
Yanez set about its execution in the best manner circumstances 
would allow. 

Hitherto the wind had been kept a little on the starboard 
quarter, the caravel steering east, a point or two north, and it 
was now the aim to lay her head so far round as to permit her 
to steer north, a point or two west. By the manner in which 
the coast appeared to trend, it was thought that this variation 
in the direction might keep them, for a few hours, at a suffi- 
cient distance from the shore. But this manoeuvre could not 
be effected without the aid of canvas, and an order was issued 
to set the foresail. The first flap of the canvas, as it was 
loosened to the gale, was tremendous, the jerk threatening to 
tear the fore-mast from its step, and then all was still as death 
forward, the hull sinking so low behind a barrier of water, as 
actually to becalm the sail. Sancho and his associate seized 
the favorable moment to secure the clews, and, as the little 
bark struggled upward again, the canvas filled with some such 
shock as is felt at the sudden checking of a cable. From this 
moment the Nina drew slowly off to sea again, though her path 
lay through such a scene of turbulent water, as threatened, at 
each instant, to overwhelm her. 

"Luis I" said a soft voice, at our hero's elbow, as the latter 
stood clinging to the side of the door of the cabin appropriated 
to the females — " Luis — Hayti better — Mattinao better — much 
bad, Luis!" 

It was Ozema, who had risen from her pallet to look out 
'ipon the appalling view of the ocean. During the mild weather 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 431 

of the first part of the passage, the intercourse between Luis 
and the natives on board had been constant and cheerful. 
Though slightly incommoded by her situation, Ozema had always 
received his visits with guileless delight, and her progress in 
Spanish had been such as to astonish even her teacher. Nor 
were the means of communication confined altogether to the 
advance of Ozema, since Luis, in his endeavors to instruct her, 
had acquired nearly as many words of her native tongue, as he 
had taught her of his own. In this manner they conversed, 
resorting to both dialects for terms, as necessity dictated. We 
shall give a free translation of what was said, endeavoring, at 
the same time, to render the dialogue characteristic and graphic. 

" Poor Ozema !" returned our hero, drawing her gently to a 
position where he could support her against the effects of the 
violent motion of the caravel — u thou must regret Hayti, indeed, 
and the peaceful security of thy groves !" 

"Caonabo there, Luis." 

"True, innocent girl; but even Caonabo is not as terrible hs 
this anger of the elements." 

" No — no — no — Caonabo much bad. Break Ozema's heart. 
No Caonabo — no Hayti." 

" Thy dread of the Carib chief, dear Ozema, hath upset thy 
reason, in part. Thou hast a God, as well as we Christians, 
and, like us, must put thy trust in him ; he alone can now pro- 
tect thee." 

"What protect?" 

" Care for thee, Ozema. See that thou dost not come to 
harm. Look to thy safety and welfare." 

"Luis protect Ozema. So promise Mattinao — so promise 
Ozema — so promise heart." 

" Dear girl, so will I, to the extent of my means. But what 
can I do against this tempest?" 

"What Luis do against Caonabo ?— kill him — cut Indians — 
make him run away !" 

" This was easy to a Christian knight, who carried a good 
sword and buckler, but it is impossible against a tempest. We 



432 MERCEDES OF C k STILE. 

have only one hope, and that is to trust in the Spaniard's 
God." 

" Spaniards great — have great God." 

" There is but one God, Ozerna, and he ruleth all, whether 
in Hayti or in Spain. Thou rememberest what I have told 
thee of his love, and of the manner of his death, that we might 
all be saved, and thou didst then promise to worship him, and 
to be baptized when we should reach my country." 

" God ! — Ozema do, what Ozema say. Love Luis' God 
already." 

" Thou hast seen the holy cross, Ozema, and hast promised 
me to kiss it, and bless it." 

" Where cross? See no cross — up in heaven? — or where ? 
Show Ozema cross, now — Luis' cross — cross Luis love." 

The young man wore the parting gift of Mercedes near his 
heart, and raising a hand he withdrew the small jewel, pressed 
it to his own lips with pious fervor, and then offered it to the 
Indian girl. 

il See" — he said — "tliis is a cross ; we Spaniards revere and 
bless it. It is our pledge of happiness. " 

" That Luis' God ?" enquired Ozema, in a little surprise. 

" Not so, my poor benighted girl" — 

" What benighted ?" interrupted the quick-witted Haytian, 
eagerly, for no term that the young man could or did apply to 
her, fell unheeded on her vigilant and attentive ear. 

" Benighted means those who have never heard of the cross, 
or of its endless mercies." 

" Ozema no benighted now," exclaimed the other, pressing 
the bauble to her b.osom. " Got cross — keep cross — no benight- 
ed again, never. Cross, Mercedes" — for, by one of those mis- 
takes that are not unfrequent in the commencement of all com- 
munications between those who speak different tongues, the 
young Indian had caught the notion, from many of Luis' invol- 
untary exclamations, that " Mercedes" meant all that was 
excellent. 

" I would, indeed, that she of whom thou speakest had thee 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 433 

in her gentle care, that she might lead thy pure soul to a just 
knowledge of thy Creator ! That cross cometh of Mercedes, if 
it be not Mercedes herself, and thou dost well in loving it, and 
in blessing it. Place the chain around thy neck, Ozema, for 
the precious emblem may help in preserving thee, should the 
gale throw us on the coast, ere morning. That cross is a sign 
of undying love." 

The girl understood enough of this, especially as the di- 
rection was seconded by a little gentle aid, on the part of our 
hero, to comply, and the chain was soon thrown around her 
neck, with the holy emblem resting on her bosom. The 
change in the temperature, as well as a sense of propriety, had in- 
duced the admiral to cause ample robes of cotton to be furnish- 
ed all the females, and Ozema's beautiful form was now closely 
enveloped in one, and beneath its folds she had hidden the 
jewel, which she fondly hugged to her heart, as a gift of Luis. 
Not so did the young man himself view the matter. He had 
merely meant to lend, in a moment of extreme peril, that 
which the superstitious feeling of the age seriously induced 
him to fancy might prove a substantial safeguard. As Ozema 
was by no means expert in managing the encumbrance of a 
dress to which she was unaccustomed, even while native taste 
had taught her to throw it around her person gracefully, the 
young man had half unconsciously assisted in placing the 
cross in its new position, when a violent roll of the vessel 
compelled him to sustain the girl by encircling her waist with 
an arm. Partly yielding to the motion of the caravel, which 
was constantly jerking even the mariners from their feet, and 
probably as much seduced by the tenderness of her own heart, 
Ozema did not rebuke this liberty — the first our hero had 
ever offered, but stood, in confiding innocence, upheld by the 
arm that, of all others, it was most grateful to her feelings 
to believe destined to perform that office for life. In another 
moment, her head rested on his bosom, and her face was turned 
upward, with the eyes fastened on the countenance of the 
young noble. 



434 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

"Thou art less alarmed at this terrific storm, Ozema, than I 
could have hoped. Apprehension for thee has made me more 
miserable than I could have thought possible, and yet thou 
seemest not to be disturbed." 

" Ozema no unhappy — no want Hayti — no want Mattinao — 
no want any thing — Ozema happy now. Got cross." 

" Sweet, guileless innocent, may'st thou never know any other 
feelings ! — confide in thy cross." 

" Cross, Mercedes — Luis, Mercedes. Luis and Ozema keep 
cross forever." 

It was, perhaps, fortunate for this high-prized happiness of 
the girl, that the Nina now took a plunge that unavoidably 
compelled our hero to release his hold of her person, or to drag 
her with him headlong toward the place where Columbus 
stood, sheltering his weather-beaten form from a portion of the 
violence of the tempest. When he recovered his feet, he per- 
ceived that the door of the cabin was closed, and that Ozema 
was no longer to be seen. 

" Dost thou find our female friends terrified by this appalling 
scene, son Luis?" Columbus quietly demanded, for, though his 
own thoughts had been much occupied by the situation of the 
caravel, he had noted all that had just passed so near him. 
"They are stout of heart, but even an amazon might quail at 
this tempest." 

" They heed it not, Senor, for I think they understand it 
not. The civilized man is so much their superior, that both men 
and women appear to have every confidence in our means of 
safety. I have just given Ozema a cross, and bade her place 
her greatest reliance on that." 

" Thou hast done well ; it is now the surest protector of us 
all. Keep the head of the caravel as near to the wind as may 
be, Sancho, when it lulls, every inch off shore being so much 
gained in the way of security." 

The usual reply was made, and then the conversation ceased ; 
the raging of the elements, and the fearful manner in which the 
Nina was compelled to struggle literally to keep on the surface 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 435 

of the ocean, affording ample matter for the reflections of all 
who witnessed the scene. 

In this manner passed the night. "When the day broke, it 
opened on a scene of wintry violence. The sun was not visible 
that day, the dark vapor driving so low before the tempest, as 
to lessen the apparent altitude of the vault of heaven one-half, 
but the ocean was an undulating sheet of foam. High land 
soon became visible nearly abeam of the caravel, and all the 
elder mariners immediately pronounced it to be the rock of 
Lisbon. As soon as this important fact was ascertained, the 
admiral wore with the head of the caravel in-shore, and laid 
his course for the mouth of the Tagus. The distance was not 
great, some twenty miles perhaps ; but the necessity of facing 
the tempest, and of making sail, on a wind, in such a storm, 
rendered the situation of the caravel more critical than it had 
been in all her previous trials. At that moment, the policy of 
the Portuguese was forgotten, or held to be entirely a secon- 
dary consideration, a port or shipwreck appearing to be the 
alternative. Every inch of their weatherly position became of 
importance to the navigators, and Vicente Yanez placed himself 
near the helm to watch its play with the vigilance of experience 
and authority. No sail but the lowest could be carried, and 
these were reefed as closely as their construction would allow. 

In this manner the tempest-tossed little bark struggled for- 
ward, now sinking so low in the troughs that land, ocean, and 
all but the frowning billows, with the clouds above their heads, 
were lost to view ; and now rising, as it might be, from the 
calm of a sombre cavern, into the roaring, hissing, and turbu- 
lence of a tempest. These latter moments were the most criti- 
cal. When the light hull reached the summit of a wave, fall- 
ing over to windward by the yielding of the element beneath 
her, it seemed as if the next billow must inevitably overwhelm 
her ; and yet, so vigilant was the eye of Vicente Yanez, and so 
ready the hand of Sancho, that she ever escaped the calamity. 
To keep the wash of the sea entirely out, was, however, impos- 
sible; and it often swept athwart the deck, forward, like the 



436 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

sheets of a cataract, that part of tjie vessel being completely 
abandoned by the crew. 

" All now depends on our canvas," said the admiral, with a 
sigh; "if that stand, we are safer than when scudding, and I 
think God is with us. To me it seemeth as if the wind was a 
little less violent than in the night." 

"Perhaps it is, Senor. I believe we gain on the place you 
pointed out to me." 

"It is yon rocky point. That weathered, and we are safe. 
That not weathered, and we see our common grave." 

"The caravel behave th nobly, and I will still hope." 

An hour later, and the land was so near that human beings 
were seen moving on it. There are moments when life and 
death may be said to be equally presented to the seaman's sight. 
On one side is destruction ; on the other security. As the ves- 
sel drew slowly in toward the shore, not only was the thunder 
of the surf upon the rocks audible, but the frightful manner in 
which the water was tossed upward in spray, gave additional 
horrors to the view. On such occasions, it is no uncommon 
thing to see jets d'eau hundreds of feet in height, and. the driv- 
ing spray is often carried to a great distance inland, before the 
wind. Lisbon has the whole rake of the Atlantic before it, un- 
broken by island or headland ; and the entire coast of Portugal 
is one of the most exposed of Europe. The south-west gales, in 
particular, drive across twelve hundred leagues of ocean, and 
the billows they send in upon its shores, are truly appalling. 
Nor was the storm we are endeavoring to describe, one of com- 
mon occurrence. The season had been tempestuous, seldom 
leaving the Atlantic any peace ; and the surges produced by 
one gale had not time to subside, ere another drove up the wa- 
ter in a new direction, giving rise to that irregularity of motion 
which most distresses a vessel, and which is particularly hazard- 
ous to small ones. 

" She looks up better, Don Christopher !" exclaimed Luis, as 
they got within musket-shot of the desired point ; " another 
ten minutes of as favorable a slant, and we do it!" 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 437 

u Thou art right, son," answered the admiral, calmly. " Were 
any calamity to throw us ashore on yonder rocks, two planks of 
the Nina would not hold together five minutes. Ease her — 
good Vicente Yaiiez — ease her, quite a point, and let her go 
through the water. All depends on the canvas, and we can 
spare that point. She moves, Luis! Regard the land, and 
thou wilt now see our motion." 

" True, Senor, but the caravel is drawing frightfully near the 
point I" 

44 Fear not ; a bold course is often the safest. It is a deep 
shore, and we need but little water." 

No one now spoke. The caravel was dashing in toward the 
point with appalling speed, and every minute brought her per- 
ceptibly nearer to the cauldron of water that was foaming 
around it. Without absolutely entering within this vortex, the 
Nina flew along its edge, and, in iive minutes more, she had a 
direct course up the Tagus open before her. The mainsail was 
now taken in, and the mariners stood fearlessly on, certain of a 
haven and security. 

Thus, virtually, ended the greatest marine exploit the world 
has ever witnessed. It is true that a run round to Palos was 
subsequently made, but it was insignificant in distance, and not 
fruitful in incidents. Columbus had effected his vast purpose, 
and his success was no longer a secret. His reception in Portu- 
gal is known, as well as all the leading occurrences that took 
place at Lisbon. He anchored in the Tagus on the 4th of 
March, and left it again on the 13 th. On the morning of the 
14th, the Nina was off Cape St. Vincent, when she hauled in 
to the eastward, with a light air from the north. At sunrise 
on the 15th she was again off the bar of Saltes, after an absenco 
of only two hundred and twenty- four days. 
19 



433 MERCEDES OE CASTILK. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

M One evening-tide, as with her crones she sate, 
Making sweet solace of some scandal new, 
A boisterous noise came thund'ring at the gate, 
And soon a sturdie boy approached in view ; 
"With gold far glitteraund were his vestments blue, 
And pye-shaped hat, and of the silver sheen 
An huge broad buckle glaunst in either shoe, 
And round his necke an Indian kerchiefe clean, 
And in his hand a switch ; — a jolly wight I ween." 

MlCKL3B t 

Notwithstanding the noble conceptions that lay at the bot- 
tom of the voyage we have just related, the perseverance and 
self-devotion that were necessary to its accomplishment, and 
the magnificence of the consequences that were dependent on 
its success, it attracted very little attention, amid the stirring 
incidents and active selfishness of the age, until the result was 
known. Only a month before the arrangement was made with 
Columbus, the memorable edict of the two sovereigns, for the 
expulsion of the Jews, had been signed ; and this uprooting of 
so large a portion of the Spanish nation was, of itsetf, an event 
likely to draw off the eyes of the people from an enterprise 
deemed as doubtful, and which was sustained by means so 
insignificant, as that of the great navigator. The close of the 
month of July had been set as the latest period for the depar- 
ture of these persecuted religionists ; and thus, at the very time, 
almost on the very day, when Columbus sailed from Palos, was 
the attention of the nation directed toward what might be 
termed a great national calamity. The departure was like the 
setting forth from Egypt, the highways being thronged with 
the moving masses, many of which were wandering they knew 
not whither. 






MERCEDES OP CASTILE. 439 

The king and queen had left Granada in May, and after re- 
maining two months in Castile, they passed into Aragon, about 
the commencement of August, in which kingdom they hap- 
pened to be wheu the expedition sailed. Here they remained 
throughout the rest of the season, settling affairs of importance, 
and, quite probably, disposed to avoid the spectacle of the 
misery their Jewish edict had inflicted, Castile having contained 
much the greater portion of that class of their subjects. In 
October, a visit was paid to the turbulent Catalans ; the court 
passing the entire winter in Barcelona. Nor did momentous 
events cease to occupy them while in this part of their territo- 
ries. On the 7th of December an attempt was made on the 
life of Ferdinand ; the assassin inflicting a severe, though not a 
fatal wound, by a blow on the neck. During the critical weeks 
in which the life of the king was deemed to be in danger, Isa- 
bella watched at his bed-side, with the untiring affection of a 
devoted wife ; and her thoughts dwelt more on her affections 
than on any worldly aggrandisement. Then followed the in- 
vestigation into the motives of the criminal ; conspiracies ever 
being distrusted in such cases, although history would probably 
show that much the greater part of these wicked attempts on 
the lives of sovereigns, are more the results of individual fanat- 
icism, than of any combined plans to destroy. 

Isabella, whose gentle spirit grieved over the misery her 
religious submission had induced her to inflict on the Jews, was 
spared the additional sorrow of mourning for a husband, taken 
away by means so violent. Ferdinand gradually recovered. 
All these occurrences, together with the general cares of the 
state, had served to divide the thoughts of even the queen from 
the voyage ; while the politic Ferdinand, in his mind, had long 
since set down the gold expended in the outfit as so much 
money lost. 

The balmy spring of the south opened as usual, and the 
fertile province of Catalonia had already become delightful with 
the fresh verdure of the close of March. The king had, for 
some weeks, resumed his usual occupations, and Isabella, re- 



440 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

lieved from her conjugal fears, had again fallen into the quiet 
current of her duties and her usual acts of beneficence. Indis- 
posed to the gorgeousness of hev station by the recent events, 
and ever pining for the indulgence of the domestic affections, 
this estimable woman, notwithstanding the strong natural dis- 
position she had always felt for that sort of life, had lived more 
among her children and confidants, of late, than had been even 
her wont. Her earliest friend, the Marchioness of Moya, as a 
matter of course, was ever near her person, and Mercedes pass- 
ed most of her time either in the immediate presence of her 
royal mistress, or in that of her children. 

There had been a small reception one evening, near the close 
of the month ; and Isabella, glad to escape from such scenes, 
had withdrawn to her private apartments, to indulge in conver- 
sation in the circle she so much loved. It was near the hour 
of midnight, the king being at work, as usual, in an adjoining 
closet. There were present, besides the members of the royal 
family and Dona Beatriz with her lovely niece, the Archbishop 
of Granada, Luis de St. Angel, and Alonzo de Quintanilla, the 
two last of whom had been summoned by the prelate, to discuss 
some question of clerical finance before their illustrious mis- 
tress. All business, however, was over, and Isabella was ren- 
dering the circle agreeable, with the condescension of a princess 
and the gentle grace of a woman. 

" Are there fresh tidings from the unfortunate and deluded 
Hebrews, Lord Archbishop ?" demanded Isabella, whose kind 
feelings ever led her to regret the severity which religious 
dependence on her confessors had induced her to sanction. 
" Our prayers should surely attend them, notwithstanding our 
policy and duty have demanded their expulsion." 

" Senora," answered Fernando de Talavera, " they are 
doubtless serving Mammon among the Moors and Turks, as 
they served him in Spain. Let not your Highness' gracious 
mind be disturbed on account of these descendants of the 
enemies and crucifiers of Christ, who, if they suffer at all, do 
but suffer justly, for the unutterable sin of their forefathers. Let 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 441 

us rather inquire, my gracious mistress, of the Senores St. Angel 
and Quintanilla here, what hath become of their favorite Colon, 
the Genoese ; and when they look for his return, dragging the 
GrBat Khan, a captive, by the beard !" 

" We know naught of him, holy prelate," put in de St. Angel, 
briskly, " since his departure from the Canaries." 

" The Canaries I" interrupted the queen, in a little surprise. 
" Hath aught been received, that cometh from that quarter?" 

" By report only, Senora. Letters have not reached any in 
Spain, that I can learn, but there is a rumor from Portugal, 
that the admiral touched at Gomera and the Grand Canary, 
where it would seem he had his difficulties, and whence he 
shortly after departed, holding a western course ; since which 
time no tidings have been received from either of the caravels." 
" By which fact, Lord Archbishop," added Quintanilla, " we can 
perceive that trifles are not likely to turn the adventurers back." 
" I'll warrant ye, Senores, that a Genoese adventurer who 
holdeth their Highnesses' commission as an admiral, will be in 
no unseemly haste to get rid of the dignity !" rejoined the prel- 
ate, laughing, without much deference to his mistress' conces- 
sions in Columbus' favor. " One does not see rank, authority, 
and emolument, carelessly thrown aside, when they may be 
retained by keeping aloof from the power whence they spring." 
" Thou art unjust to the Genoese, holy sir, and judges t him 
harshly," observed the queen. " Truly, I did not know of 
these tidings from the Canaries, and I rejoice to hear that Colon 
hath got thus far in safety. Hath not the past been esteemed 
a most boisterous winter among mariners, Senor de St. Angel ?" 
" So much so, your Highness, that I have heard the seamen 
here, in Barcelona, swear that, within the memory of man, there 
hath not been another like it. Should ill-luck wait upon Colon, 
I trust this circumstance may be remembered as his excuse ; 
though I doubt if he be very near any of our tempests and 
storms." 

"Not he!" exclaimed the bishop, triumphantly. "It will 
be seen that he hath been safely harbored in some river of 



442 ME It CEDES OF CASTILE. 

Africa ; and we shall have some question yet to settle about him 
with Don John of Portugal." 

" Here is the king to give us his opinion," interposed Isa- 
bella. " It is long since I have heard him mention the name 
of Colon. Have you entirely forgotten our Genoese admiral, 
Don Fernando !" 

" Before I am questioned on subjects so remote," returned 
the king, smiling, "let me inquire into matters nearer home. 
How long is it that your Highness holdeth court, and giveth 
receptions, past the hour of midnight I" 

" Call you this a court, Seiior % Here are but our own dear 
children, Beatriz and her niece, with the good archbishop, and 
those two faithful servants of your own." 

" True ; but you overlook the ante-chambers, and those who 
await your pleasure without." 

" None can await without at this unusual hour; surely you 
jest, my lord." 

"Then your own page, Diego de Ballesteros, hath reported 
falsely. Unwilling to disturb your privacy, at this unseasonable 
hour, he hath come to me, saying that one of strange conduct 
and guise is in the palace, insisting on an interview with the 
queen, let it be late or early. The accounts of this man's de- 
portment are so singular, that I have ordered him to be ad- 
mitted, and have come myself to witness the interview. The 
page telleth me that he swears all hours are alike, and that 
night and day are equally made for our uses." 

" Dearest Don Fernando, there may be treason in this !" 

" Fear not, Isabella ; assassins are not so bold, and the trusty 
rapiers of these gentlemen will prove sufficient for our protec- 
tion — Hist ! there are footsteps, and we must appear calm, even 
though we apprehend a tumult." 

The door opened, and Sancho Mundo stood in the royal 
presence. The air and appearance of so singular a being excited 
both astonishment and amusement, and every eye was fastened 
on him in wonder; and this so much the more, because he had 
decked his person with sundry ornaments from the imaginary 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 443 

Indies, among which were one or two bands of gold. Mercedes 
alone detected his profession by his air and attire, and she rose 
involuntarily, clasping her hands with energy, and suffering a 
slight exclamation to escape her. The queen perceived this 
little pantomime, and it at once gave a right direction to her 
own thoughts. 

" I am Isabella, the queen," she said, rising, without any 
further suspicion of danger ; " and thou art a messenger from 
Colon, the Genoese ?" 

Sancho, who had found great difficulty in gaining admittance, 
now that his end was obtained, took matters with his native 
coolness. His first act was to fall on his knees, as he had been 
particularly enjoined by Columbus to do. He had caught the 
habit of using the weed of Hayti and Cuba, from the natives, 
and was, in fact, the first seaman who ever chewed tobacco. 
The practice had already got to be confirmed with him, and 
before he answered, or as soon as he had taken this, for him, 
novel position, he saw fit to fill a corner of his mouth with the 
attractive plant. Then, giving his wardrobe a shake, for all the 
decent clothes he owned were on his person, he disposed him- 
self to make a suitable reply. 

"Senora — Dona — your Highness," he answered, "anyone 
might have seen that at a glance. I am Sancho Mundo, of the 
ship-yard-gate ; one of your Highness' Excellency's most faithful 
subjects and mariners, being a native and resident of Moguer." 

" Thou comest from Colon, I say V 

" Senora, I do ; many thanks to your Eoyal Grace for the 
information. Don Christopher hath sent me across the country 
from Lisbon, seeing that the wily Portuguese would be less 
likely to distrust a simple mariner, like myself, than one of your 
every-day-booted couriers. 'Tis a weary road, and there is not 
a mule between the stables of Lisbon and the palace of Barce- 
lona, fit for a Christian to bestride." 

"Then, hast thou letters? One like thee can scarcely bear 
aught else." 

" Therein, your Grace's Highness, Dona Reyna, is mistaken; 



444 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

though I am far from bearing half the number of doblas I had 
at starting. Mass ! the innkeepers took me for a grandee, by 
the manner in which they charged I." 

" Give the man gold, good Alonzo — he is one that liketh his 
reward ere he will speak." 

Sancho coolly counted the pieces that were put into his hand, 
and, finding them greatly to exceed his hopes, he had no longer 
any motive for prevarication. 

" Speak, fellow !" cried the king. " Thou triflest where thou 
owest thy duty and obedience." 

The sharp, quick voice of Ferdinand had much more effect on 
the ear of Sancho, than the gentler tones of Isabella, notwith- 
standing his rude nature had been impressed with the matronly 
beauty and grace of the latter. 

"If your Highness would condescend to let me know what 
you wish to hear, I will speak in all gladness." 

"Where is Colon?" demanded the queen. 

" At Lisbon, lately, Seiiora, though I think now at Palos de 
Moguer, or in that neighborhood." 

" Whither hath he been ?" 

" To Cipango, and the territories of the Great Khan ; forty 
days' sail from Gomera, and a country of marvellous beauty and 
excellence !" 

" Thou canst not — darest not trifle with me ! Can we put 
credit in thy words ?" 

" If your Highness only knew Sancho Mundo, you would not 
feel this doubt. I tell you, Senora, and all these noble cavaliers 
and dames, that Don Christopher Colon hath discovered the 
other side of the earth, which we now know to be round, by 
having circled it ; and that he hath found out that the north star 
journey eth about in the heavens, like a gossip spreading her 
news ; and that he hath taken possession of islands as large as 
Spain, in which gold groweth, and where the holy church may 
employ itself in making Christians to the end of time." 

" The letter — Sancho — give me the letter. Colon would 
scarce send thee as a verbal expositor." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 445 

The fellow now undid sundry coverings of cloth and paper, 
until he reached the missive of Columbus, when, without rising 
from his knees, he held it out toward the queen, giving her the 
trouble to move forward several paces to receive it. So unex- 
pected and astounding were the tidings, and so novel the whole 
scene, that no one interfered, leaving Isabella to be the sole 
actor, as she was, virtually, the sole speaker. Sancho having 
thus successfully acquitted himself of a task that had been ex- 
pressly confided to him on account of his character and appear- 
ance, which, it was thought, would prove his security from 
arrest and plunder, settled down quietly on his heels, for he 
had been directed not to rise until ordered ; and drawing forth 
the gold he had received, he began coolly to count it anew. 
So absorbing was the attention all gave to the queen, that no 
one heeded the mariner or his movements. Isabella opened 
the letter, which her looks devoured, as they followed line after 
line. As was usual with Columbus, the missive was long, and 
it required many minutes to read it. All this time not an in- 
dividual moved, every eye being fastened on the speaking coun- 
tenance of the queen. There, were seen the heightening flush 
of pleasure and surprise, the glow of delight and wonder, and 
the look of holy rapture. When the letter was ended, Isabella 
turned her eyes upward to heaven, clasped her hands with en- 
ergy, and exclaimed — 

" Not unto us, O Lord, but to Thee, be all the honor of this 
wonderful discovery, all the benefits of this great proof of thy 
goodness and power I" 

Thus saying, she sunk into a seat and dissolved in tears. 
Ferdinand uttered a slight ejaculation at the words of his royal 
consort ; and then he gently took the letter from her unresist- 
ing hand, and read it with great deliberation and care. It was 
not often that the wary King of Aragon was as much affected, 
in appearance at least, as on this occasion. The expression of 
his face, at first, was that of wonder ; eagerness, not to say avid- 
ity, followed ; and when he had finished reading, his grave coun- 
tenance was unequivocally illuminated by exultation and joy. 



446 MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 

"Good Luis de St. Angel !" he cried, "and thou, honest 
Alonzo de Quintanilla, these must be grateful tidings to you 
both. Even thou, holy prelate, wilt rejoice that the church is 
like to have acquisitions so glorious — albeit no favorer of the 
Genoese of old. Far more than all our expectations are real- 
ized, for Colon hath truly discovered the Indies ; increasing our 
dominions, and otherwise advancing our authority in a most 
unheard-of manner." 

It was unusual to see Don Ferdinand so excited, and he seem- 
ed conscious himself that he was making an extraordinary exhi- 
bition, for he immediately advanced to the queen, and, taking 
her hand, he led her toward his own cabinet. In passing out 
of the saloon, he indicated to the three nobles that they might 
follow to the council. The king made this sudden movement 
more from habitual wariness than any settled object, his mind 
being disturbed in a way to which he was unaccustomed, while 
caution formed a part of his religion, as well as of his policy. 
It is not surprising, therefore, that when he and the party he 
invited to lollow him had left the room, there remained only 
the princesses, the Marchioness of Moya, and Mercedes. No 
sooner had the king and queen disappeared, than the royal chil- 
dren retired to their own apartments, leaving our heroine, her 
guardian, and Sancho, the sole occupants of the saloon. The 
latter still remained on his knees, scarce heeding what had pass- 
ed, so intently was he occupied with his own situation, and his 
own particular sources of satisfaction. 

"Thou canst rise, friend," observed Doiia Beatriz ; "their 
Highnesses are no longer present." 

At this intelligence, Sancho quitted his humble posture, 
brushed his knees with some care, and looked about him with 
the composure that he was wont to exhibit in studying the 
heavens at sea. 

" Thou wcrt of Colon's company, friend, by the manner in 
which thou hast spoken, and the circumstance that the admiral 
hath employed thee as his courier ?" 

"You may well believe that, Sefiora, your Excellency, for 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 447 

most of my time was passed at the lielm, which was within 
three fathoms of the very spot that Don Christopher and the 
Senor de Mun*s loved so well that they never quitted it, except 
to sleep, and not always then." 

"Hadst thou a Senor de Munos of thy party ?" resumed the 
Marchioness, making a sign to her ward to control her feelings. 

" That had we, Senora, and a Senor Gutierrez, and a certain 
Don Somebody Else, and they all three did not occupy more 
room than one common man. Prithee, honorable and agreea- 
ble Senora, is there one Dona Beatriz de Cabrera, the Marchion- 
ess of Moya, a lady of the illustrious house of Bobadilla, any- 
where about the court of our gracious queen V 

" I am she, and thou hast a message for me, from this very 
Senor de Munos, of whom thou hast spoken." 

"I no longer wonder that there are great lords with their 
beautiful ladies, and poor sailors with wives that no one envies ! 
Scarce can I open my mouth, but it is known what I wish to 
say, which is knowledge to make one party great and the other 
party little ! Mass ! — Don Christopher, himself, will need all 
his wit, if he journeyeth as far as Barcelona !" 

" Tell us of this Pedro de Munos ; for thy message is to me." 

"Then, Senora, I will tell you of your own brave nephew, 
the Conde de Llera, who goeth by two other names in the 
caravel, one of which is supposed to be a sham, while the other 
is still the greatest deception of the two." 

" Is it, then, known who my nephew really is ? Are many 
persons acquainted with his secret?" 

" Certainly, Senora ; it is known, firstly, to himself; secondly, 
to Don Christopher ; thirdly, to me ; fourthly, to Master Alonzo 
Pinzon, if he be still in the flesh, as most probably he is not. 
Then it is known to your ladyship ; and this beautiful Senorita 
must have some suspicions of the matter." 

" Enough — I see the secret is not public ; though, how one 
of thy class came to be of it, I cannot explain. Tell me of my 
nephew : — did he, too, write ? if so, let me, at once, peruse his 
letter." 



448 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Senora, my departure took Don Luis by surprise, and he 
had no time to write. The admiral had given the princes and 
princesses, that we brought from Espanola, in^charge to the 
Conde, and he had too much to do to be scribbling letters, else 
would he have written sheets to an aunt as respectable as your- 
self 

" Princes and princesses ! — What mean you, friend, by such 
high-sounding terms?" 

" Only that we have brought several of these great personages 
to Spain, to pay their respects to their Highnesses. We deal 
with none of the common fry, Senora, but with the loftiest 
princes, and the most beautiful princesses of the east." 

" And dost thou really mean that persons of this high rank 
have returned with the admiral } n 

" Out of all question, lady, and one of a beauty so rare, that 
the fairest dames of Castile need look to it, if they wish not to 
be outdone. She, in particular, is Don Luis' friend and 
favorite." 

" Of whom speakest thou?" demanded Dona Beatriz, in the 
lofty manner in which she was wont to insist on being answered 
directly. " What is the name of this princess, and whence doth 
she come ?" 

" Her name, your Excellency, is Dona Ozema de Hayti, of a 
part of which country her brother, Don Mattinao, is cacique or 
king, Senora Ozema being the heiress, or next of kin. Don 
Luis and your humble servant paid that court a visit" — 

" Thy tale is most improbable, fellow — art thou one whom 
Don Luis would be likely to select as a companion on such an 
occasion ?" 

" Look at it as you will, Senora, it is as true as that this is 
the court of Don Ferdinand and Dona Isabella. You must 
know, illustrious Marchioness, that the young count is a little 
given to roving about among us sailors, and on one occasion, a 
certain Sancho Mundo, of Moguer, happened to be. of the same 
voyage ; and thus we became known to each other. I kept 
the noble's secret, and he got to be Sancho' s friend. When 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 449 

Don Luis went to pay a visit to Don Mattinao, the cacique, 
which word meaneth * your Highness,' in the eastern tongue, 
Sancho must go with him, and Sancho went. When King 
Caonabo came down from the mountains to carry off the Prin- 
cess Dona Ozema for a wife, and the princess was unwilling to 
go, why there remained nothing to be done, but for the Conde 
de Llera and his friend Sancho of the ship-yard-gate, to fight 
the whole army in her defence, which we did, gaining as great 
a victory as Don Fernando, our sovereign master, ever gained 
over the Moors." 

" Carrying off the princess yourselves, as would seem ! Friend 
Sancho, of the ship-yard-gate, if that be thy appellation, this 
tale of thine is ingenious, but it lacketh probability. Were I 
to deal justly by thee, honest Sancho, it would be to order thee 
the stripes thou merietst so well, as a reward for this trifling." 

" The man speaketh as he hath been taught," observed Mer- 
cedes, in a low, unsteady voice ; " I fear, Seiiora, there is too 
much truth in his tale I" 

" You need fear nothing, beautiful Seiiorita," put in Sancho, 
altogether unmoved at the menace implied by the words of the 
Marchioness, " since the battle hath been fought, the victory 
hath been gained, and both the heroes escaped uninjured. This 
illustrious Senora, to whom I can forgive any thing, as the aunt 
of the best friend I have on earth — any thing spoken, I mean — 
will remember that the Haytians know nothing of arquebuses, 
by means of which we defeated Caonabo, and also, that many 
is the column of Moors that Don Luis hath broken singly, and 
by means of his own good lance." 

" Ay, fellow," answered Dona Beatriz, "but that hath been 
in the saddle, behind plaits of steel, and with a weapon that hath 
overturned even Alonzo de Ojedo !" 

" Hast thou truly brought away with thee the princess thou 
hast named ?" asked Mercedes, earnestly. 

" I swear to it, Senora and Senorita, illustrious ladies both, 
by the holy mass, and all the saints in the calendar ! A prin- 
cess, moreover, surpassing in beauty the daughters of our own 



i50 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

blessed queen, if the fair ladies who passed out of this room, 
even now, are they, as I suspect." 

"Out upon thee, knave!" cried the indignant Beatriz — "I 
will no more of this, and marvel that my nephew should have 
employed one of so loose a tongue, on any of his errands. Go 
to, and learn discretion ere the morning, or the favor of even 
thy admiral will not save thy bones. Mercedes, we will seek 
our rest — the hour is late." 

Sancho was immediately left alone, and in a minute a page 
appeared to show him to the place where he was to pass the 
night. The old mariner had grumbled a little to himself, con 
cerning the spirit of Don Luis' aunt, counted anew his gold, 
and was about to take possession of his pallet, when the same 
page reappeared to summon him to another interview. Sancho, 
who knew little distinction between night and day, made no 
objections, especially when he was told that his presence was 
required by the lovely Senorita, whose gentle, tremulous voice 
had so much interested him, in the late interview. Mercedes 
received her rude guest in a small saloon of her own, after hav- 
ing parted from her guardian for the night. As he entered, her 
face was flushed, her eye bright, and her whole demeanor, to 
one more expert in detecting female emotions, would have be- 
trayed intense anxiety. 

"Thou hast had a long and weary journey, Sancho," said 
our heroine, when alone with the seaman, " and, I pray thee,- 
accept this gold, as a small proof of the interest with which I 
have heard the great tidings of which thou hast been the bearer." 

" Senorita !" exclaimed Sancho, affecting indifference to the 
doblas that fell into his hand — " I hope you do not think me 
mercenary ! the honor of being the messenger, and of being ad- 
mitted to converse with such illustrious ladies, more than pays 
me for any thing I could do." 

" Still, thou may'st need money for thy wants, and wilt not 
refuse that which a lady offereth." 

" On that ground, I would accept it, Dona Senorita, even were 
it twice as much." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 451 

So saying, Sancho placed the money, witk a suitable resigna- 
tion, by the side of that which he had previously received by 
order of the queen. Mercedes now found herself in the situa- 
tion that they who task their powers too much, are often 
fated to endure ; in other words, now she had at command 
the means of satisfying her own doubts, she hesitated about 
using them. 

" Sancho," Mercedes at length commenced, "thou hast been 
with the Serior Colon, throughout this great and extraordinary 
voyage, and must know much that it will be curious for us, who 
have lived quietly in Spain, to hear. Is all thou hast said about 
the princes and princesses true ?" 

" As true, Seiiorita, as such things need be for a history. 
Mass ! — Any one who hath been in a battle, or seen any other 
great adventure, and then cometh to hear it read of, after- 
ward, will soon learn to understand the difference between 
the thing itself, and the history that may be given of it. Now, 
I was"— 

"Never mind thy other adventures, good Sancho; tell me 
only of this. Are there really a Prince Mattinao, and a Prin- 
cess Ozema his sister, and have both accompanied the admiral 
to Spain?" 

" I said not that, beautiful Senorita, for Don Mattinao re- 
mained behind to rule his people. It is only his handsome 
sister, who hath followed Don Christopher and Don Luis to 
Palos." 

"Followed! — Do the admiral and the Conde de Llera 
possess such influence over royal ladies, as to induce them to 
abandon their native country and to follow them to a foreign 
land?" 

" Ay, Senorita, that might seem out of rule in Castile, or 
Portugal, or even in France. But Hayti is not yet a Christian 
country, and a princess there may not be more than a noble 
lady in Castile, and, in the way of wardrobe, perhaps, not even 
as much. Still, a princess is a princess, and a handsome prin- 
cess is a handsome princess. Dona Ozema, here, is a wonderful 



452 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

creature, and begmneth already to prattle your pure Castiliau, 
an' she had been brought up at Toledo, or Burgos. But Don 
Luis is a most encouraging master, and no doubt made great 
head-way, during the time he was living in her palace, as it 
might be alone with her, before that incarnate devil Don Caon- 
abo came down with his followers to seize the lady." 

" Is this lady a Christian princess, Sancho ?" 

" Heaven bless your own pure soul, Dona Senorita, she can 
boast of but little in that way ; still, she hath made something 
of a beginning, as I see she now weareth a cross — one small in 
size, it is true, but precious in material, as, indeed it ought to 
be, seeing that it is a present from one as noble and rich as the 
Count of Llera." 

" A cross, say'st thou, Sancho !" interrupted Mercedes, almost 
gasping for breath, yet so far subduing her feelings as to pre- 
vent the old seaman from detecting them ; " hath Don Luis 
succeeded in inducing her to accept of a cross V y 

"That hath he, Senorita — one of precious stones, that he 
once wore at his own neck." 

" Knowest thou the stones ? — was it of turquoise, embellished 
with the finest gold ¥ ' 

"For the gold I can answer, lady, though my learning hath 
never reached, as high as the precious stones. The heavens of 
Hayti, however, are not bluer than the stones of that cross. 
Dona Ozema calls it i Mercedes,' by which I understand that 
she looketh for the mercies of the crucifixion to help her be- 
nighted soul." 

"Is this cross, then, held so common, that it hath gotten to 
be the subject of discourse even for men of thy class ?" 

"Hearkee, Senorita; a man like me is more valued, on board 
a caravel, in a tossing sea, than he is likely to be here, in 
Barcelona, on solid ground. We went to Cipango to set up 
crosses, and to make Christians ; so that all hath been in char- 
acter. As for the Lady Ozema, she taketh more notice of me 
than of another, as I was in the battle that rescued her from 
Caonabo, and so she showed me the cross the day we anchored 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 453 

in the Tagus, or just before the admiral ordered me to bring his 
letter to her Highness. Then it was that she kissed the cross, 
and held it, to her heart, and said it was ' Mercedes.' " 

"This is most strange, Sancho ! Hath this princess attend- 
ants befitting her rank and dignity ?" 

" You forget, Seiiorita, that the Nina is but a small craft, as 
her name signifieth, and there would be no room for a large 
train of lords and ladies. Don Christopher and Don Luis are 
honorable enough to attend on any princess ; and for the rest, 
the Dona Ozema must wait until our gracious queen can com- 
mand her a retinue befitting her birth. Besides, my lady, 
these Haytian dames are simpler than our Spanish nobles, half 
of them thinking clothes of no great use in that mild climate." 

Mercedes looked offended and incredulous ; but her curiosity 
and interest were too active, to permit her to send the man 
away without further question. 

"And Don Luis de Bobadilla was ever with the admiral?' 1 
she said ; " ever ready to support him, and foremost in all 
hazards ?" 

" Seiiorita, you describe the count as faithfully as if you had 
been present from first to last. Had you but seen him dealing 
out his blows upon Caonabo's followers, and the manner in 
which he kept them all at bay, with the Dona Ozema near 
him, behind the rocks, it would have drawn tears of admiration 
from your own lovely eyes." 

" The Dona Ozema near him — behind rocks — and assailants 
held at bay !" 

" Si, Seiiora ; you repeat it all like a book. It was much 
as you say, though the Lady Ozema did not content herself 
with being behind the rocks, for, when the arrows came thickest, 
she rushed before the count, compelling the enemy to withhold, 
lest they should slay the very prize they were battling for ; 
thereby saving the life of her knight." 

" Saving his life ! — the life of Luis — of Don Luis de Boba- 
dilla — an Indian princess f" 

" It is just as you say, and a most noble girl she is, asking 



454 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

pardon for speaking so light of one of her high rank. Time 
and again, since that day, hath the young count told me, that 
the arrows came in such clouds, that his honor might have 
been tarnished by a retreat, or his life been lost, but for 
the timely resolution of the Dona Ozema. She is a rare 
creature, Senorita, and you will love her as a sister, when you 
come to see and know her." 

"Sancho," said our heroine, blushing like the dawn, "thou 
saidst that the Conde de Llera bade thee speak of him to his 
aunt ; did he mention no one else I" 

" No one, Senorita.' 7 

"Art certain, Sancho? Bethink thee well — did he mention 
no other name to thee ?" 

"Not that I can swear. It is true, that either he or old 
Diego, the helmsman, spoke of one Clara that keepeth an hos- 
teria, here in Barcelona, as a place famous for its wine ; but I 
think it more likely to have been Diego than the count, as one 
thinketh much of these matters, and the other would not be apt 
to know aught of Clara." 

" Thou canst retire, Sancho," said Mercedes, in a faint voice. 
" We will say more to thee in the morning.' ' 

Sancho was not sorry to be dismissed, and he gladly returned 
to his pallet, little dreaming of the mischief he had done by 
the mixture of truth and exaggeration that he had been re- 
counting. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 455 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

44 Mac-Homer, too, in prose or song, 
By the state-papers of Buffon, 

To deep researches led ; 
A Gallo-Celtic scheme may botch, 
To prove the Ourang race were Bcotch, 
Who from the Highlands fled. 11 

Lokd John Townshend. 

The intelligence of the return of Columbus, and of the im- 
portant discoveries he had made, spread through Europe like 
wild-fire. It soon got to be, in the general estimation, the great 
event of the age. For several years afterward, or until the dis- 
covery of the Pacific by Balboa, it was believed that the Indies 
had been reached by the western passage ; and, of course, the 
problem of the earth's spherical shape was held to be solved by 
actual experiment. The transactions of the voyage, the won- 
ders seen, the fertility of the soil of the east, the softness of its 
climate, its treasures in gold, spices, and pearls, and the curious 
things that the admiral had brought as proofs of his success, 
were all the themes of the hour. Men never wearied in dis- 
cussing the subjects. For many centuries had the Spaniards 
been endeavoring to expel the Moors from the peninsula ; but 
as that much-desired event had been the result of time and a 
protracted struggle, even its complete success seemed tame and 
insignificant compared with the sudden brilliancy that shone 
around the western discoveries. In a word, the pious rejoiced 
in the hope of spreading the gospel ; the avaricious feasted 
their imaginations on untold hoards of gold ; the politic calcu- 
lated the increase of the power of Spain ; the scientific ex- 
ulted in the triumph of mind over prejudice and ignorance, 



456 MERCEDES OF CASTILE 

while they hoped for still greater accessions of knowledge ; and 
the enemies of Spain wondered, and deferred, even while they 
envied. 

The first few days that succeeded the arrival of Columbus' 
courier, were days of delight and curiosity. Answers were sent 
soliciting his early presence, high honors were proffered to him, 
and his name filled all mouths, as his glory was in the heart of 
every true Spaniard. Orders were issued to make the necessary 
outfits for a new voyage, and little was talked of but the dis- 
covery and its consequences. In this manner passed a month, 
when the admiral arrived at Barcelona, attended by most of the 
Indians he had brought with him from the islands. His hon- 
ors were of the noblest kind, the sovereigns receiving him on a 
throne placed in a public hall, rising at his approach, and in- 
sisting on his being seated himself, a distinction of the highest 
nature, and usually granted only to princes of royal blood. 
Here the admiral related the history of his voyage, exhibited 
the curiosities he had brought with him, and dwelt on his hopes 
of future benefits. When the tale was told, all present knelt, 
and Te Deum was chanted by the usual choir of the court ; 
even Ferdinand's stern nature dissolving into tears of grateful 
joy, at this unlooked-for and magnificent behest of heaven. 

For a long time, Columbus was the mark of every eye ; nor 
did his honors and consideration cease untill he left Spain, in 
command of the second expedition to the east, as the voyage 
was then termed. 

A few days previously to the arrival of the admiral at court, 
Don Luis de Bobadilla suddenly appeared in Barcelona. On 
ordinary occasions, the movements of one of the rank and pecu- 
liarities of the young grandee would have afforded a topic for 
the courtiers, that would not soon have been exhausted, but the 
all-engrossing theme of the great voyage afforded him a screen. 
His presence, however, could not escape notice ; and it was 
whispered, with the usual smiles and shrugs, that he had entered 
the port in a caravel, coming from the Levant ; and it was one 
of the received pleasantries of the hour to say, in an undertone, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 457 

•that the young Conde de Llera had also made the eastern voy- 
age. All this gave our hero little concern, and he was soon 
pursuing his ordinary life, when near the persons of the sover- 
eigns. The day that Columbus was received in state, he was 
present in the hall, attired in the richest vestments, and no 
noble of Spain did more credit to his lineage, or his condition, 
than Don Luis, by his mien and carriage. It was remarked 
that Isabella smiled on him, during the pageant ; but the head 
of more than one wary observer was shaken, as its owner re- 
marked how grave the queen's favorite appeared, for an occasion 
so joyous ; a fact that was attributed to the unworthy pursuits 
of her truant nephew. No one, that day, gazed at Luis with 
more delight than Sancho, who lingered at Barcelona to share 
in the honors of his chief, and who, in virtue of his services, 
was permitted to take his place among the courtiers themselves. 
Not a little admiration was excited by the manner in which he 
used the novel weed, called tobacco ; and some fifteen or twenty 
of his neighbors were nauseated by their efforts to emulate his 
indulgence and satisfaction. One of his exploits was of a 
character so unusual, and so well illustrates the feeling of the 
hour, that it may be well to record it in detail. 

The reception was over, and Sancho was quitting the hall 
with the rest of the crowd, when he was accosted by a man 
apparently of forty, well attired, and of agreeable manner, who 
desired the honor of his presence at a slight entertainment, of 
which several had been prepared for the admiral and his friends. 
Sancho, nothing loth, the delights of distinction being yet so 
novel, cheerfully complied, and he was quickly led to a room 
of the palace, where he found a party of some twenty young 
nobles assembled to do him honor; for happy was he that day 
in Barcelona who could get even one of the meanest of Colum- 
bus' followers to accept of his homage. No sooner did the two 
enter the room, than the young Castilian lords crowded around 
them, covering Sancho with protestations of admiration, and 
addressing eager questions, a dozen at a time, to his compan- 
ion, whom they styled " Senor Pedro," " Seiior Matir," and 



458 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

occasionally "Senor Pedro Matir." It is scarcely necessary to 
add, that this person was the historian who has become known 
to us of these latter days as " Peter Martyr," an Italian, to 
whose care and instruction Isabella had entrusted most of the 
young nobles of the court. The present interview had been 
got up to indulge the natural curiosity of the youthful lords, 
and Sancho had been chosen for the occasion, on the principle 
that when the best is denied us, we must be content to accept 
information of an inferior quality. 

" Congratulate me, Senores," cried Peter Martyr, as soon as 
he could find an opportunity to speak, " since my success sur- 
passeth our own hopes. As for the Liguirian, himself, and all 
of high condition about him, they are in the hands of the most 
illustrious of Spain, for this day ; but here is a most worthy 
pilot, no doubt the second in authority on board one of the 
caravels, who consenteth to do us honor, and to partake of our 
homely cheer. I drew him from a crowd of applicants, and 
have not yet had an opportunity to inquire his name, which he 
is about to give us of his own accord.' ' 

• Sancho never wanted for self-possession, and had far too much 
mother-wit to be either clownish or offensively vulgar, though 
the reader is not now to be told that he was neither qualified to 
be an academician, nor had the most profound notions of natural 
philosophy. He assumed an air of suitable dignity, therefore, 
and, somewhat practised in his new vocation by the thousand 
interrogatories he had answered in the last month, he disposed 
himself to do credit to the information of a man who had visited 
the Indies. 

"I am called Sancho Mundo, Senores, at your service — 
sometimes Sancho of the ship-yard-gate, though I would prefer 
now to be called Sancho of the Indies, unless, indeed, it should 
suit his Excellency Don Christopher to take that appellation — 
his claim being somewhat better than mine." 

Here several protested that his claims were of the highest 
order ; and then followed sundry introductions to Sancho of 
the ship -yard-gate, of several young men of the first families 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 459 

in Castile ; for, though the Spaniards have not the same mania 
for this species of politeness as the Americans, the occasion was 
one in which native feeling got the ascendency of conventional 
reserve. After this ceremony, and the Mendozas, Guzmans, 
Cerdas, and Toledos, present, felt honored in knowing this 
humble seaman, the whole party repaired to the banqueting- 
room, where a table was spread that did credit to the cooks of 
Barcelona. During the repast, although the curiosity of the 
young men made some inroads on their breeding in this partic- 
ular, no question could induce Sancho to break in upon the 
duty of the moment, for which he entertained a sort of religious 
veneration. Once, when pushed a little, more closely than 
common, he laid down his knife and fork, and made the follow- 
ing solemn reply : 

M Senores," he said, " I look upon food as a gift from God 
to man, and hold it to be irreverent to converse much, when 
the bounties of the table invite us to do homage to this great 
dispenser. Don Christopher is of this way of thinking, I 
know, and all his followers imitate their beloved and venerated 
chief. As soon as I am ready to converse, Senores Don Hidal- 
gos, you shall be told of it, and then God help the ignorant and 
silly 1" 

After this admonition, there remained nothing to be said un- 
til Sancho's appetite was satisfied, when he drew a little back 
from the table, and announced his readiness to proceed. 

" I profess to very little learning, Senor Pedro Martir," he 
said ; " but what I have seen I have seen, and that which is 
known, is as well known by a mariner, as by a doctor of Sala- 
manca. Ask your questions, then, o' heaven's sake, and expect 
such answers as a poor but honest man can give." 

The learned Peter Martyr was fain to make the best of his 
subject, for at that moment, any information that came from 
what might be termed first hands, was greedily received ; he 
proceeded, therefore, to his inquiries, as simply and as directly 
as he had been invited to do. 

" Well, Senor," commenced the man of learning, " we are 



460 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

willing to obtain knowledge on any terms. Prithee, tell us, at 
once, which of all the wonderful things that you witnessed on 
this voyage, hath made the deepest impression on your mind, 
and striketh you as the most remarkable !" 

" I know nothing to compare with the whiffling of the north 
star," said Sancho, promptly. "That star hath always been 
esteemed among us seamen, as being immovable as the cathe- 
dral of Seville ; but, in this voyage, it hath been seen to change 
its place, with the inconstancy of the winds." 

" That is, indeed, miraculous !" exclaimed Peter Martyr, who 
scarcely knew how to take the intelligence ; " perhaps there is 
some mistake, Master Sancho, and you are not accustomed to 
sidereal investigations. " 

" Ask Don Christopher ; when the phernomerthon, as the 
admiral called it, was first observed, we talked the matter over 
together, and came to the conclusion, that nothing in this world 
was as permanent as it seemed to be. Depend on it, Senor 
Don Pedro, the north star flits about like a weathercock." 

" I shall inquire into this of the illustrious admiral ; but, 
next to this star, Master Sancho, what deem you most worthy 
of observation ? I speak now of ordinary things, leaving science 
to future discussion." 

This was too grave a question to be lightly answered, and 
while Sancho was cogitating the matter, the door opened, and 
Luis de Bobadilla entered the room, in a blaze of manly grace 
and rich attire. A dozen voices uttered his name, and Peter 
Martyr rose to receive him, with a manner in which kindness 
of feeling was blended with reproof. 

"I asked this honor, Senor Conde," he said, "though you 
have now been beyond my counsel and control some time, for 
it appeared to me that one fond of voyages as yourself, might 
find a useful lesson, as well as enjoy a high satisfaction, in 
listening to the wonders of an expedition as glorious as this of 
Colon's. This worthy seaman, a pilot, no doubt, much confided 
in by the admiral, hath consented to share in our poor hospi- 
talities on this memorable day, and is about to give us many 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 461 

interesting facts and incidents of the great adventure. Master 
Sancho Mundo, this is Don Luis de Bobadilla, Conde de Llera, 
a grandee of high lineage, and one that is not unknown to the 
seas, having often traversed them in his own person." 

" It is quite unnecessary to tell me that, Senor Pedro," an- 
swered Sancho, returning Luis' gay and graceful salutation, 
with profound, but awkward respect, " since I see it at a 
glance. His Excellency hath been in the east, as well as Don 
Christopher and myself, though we went different ways, and 
neither party went as far as Cathay. I am honored in your 
acquaintance, Don Luis, and shall just say that the noble admi- 
ral will bring navigation more in fashion than it hath been of 
late years. If you travel in the neighborhood of Moguer, I beg 
you will not pass the door of Sancho Mundo without stopping 
to inquire if he be within." 

" That I most cheerfully promise, worthy master," said Luis, 
laughing, and taking a seat, " even though it lead me to the 
ship-yard-gate. And now, Senor Pedro, let me not interrupt 
the discourse, which I discovered was most interesting as I en- 
tered." 

" I have been thinking of this matter, Senores," resumed San- 
cho, gravely, "and the fact that appears most curious to me, next 
to the whiffling of the north star, is the circumstance that there 
are no doblas in Cipango. Gold is not wanting, and it seemeth 
passing singular that a people should possess gold, and not 
bethink them of the convenience of striking doblas, or some 
similar coin." 

Peter Martyr and his young pupils laughed at this sally, and 
then the subject was pushed in another form. 

"Passing by this question, which belongeth rather to the poli- 
cy of states than to natural phenomena," continued Peter 
Martyr, u what most struck you as remarkable, in the way of 
human nature I" 

" In that particular, Senor, I think the island of the women 
may be set down as the most extraordinary of all the phcrnom- 
erthons we fell in with. I have known women shut themselves 
20 



462 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

up in convents ; and men, too ; but never did I hear, before 
this voyage, of either shutting themselves up in islands !" 

" And is this true ?" inquired a dozen voices — " did you 
really meet with such an island, Seiior 8 1 ' 

"I believe we saw it at a distance, Senores; and I hold it 
to be lucky that we went no nearer, for I find the gossips of 
Moguer troublesome enough, without meeting a whole island 
of them. Then there is the bread that grows like a root — what 
think you of that, Seiior Don Luis ? Is it not a most curious 
dish to taste of?" 

" Nay, Master Sancho, that is a question of your own putting, 
and it must be one of your own answering. What know I of 
the wonders of Cipango, since Candia lieth in an opposite 
course ? Answer these matters for thyself, friend." 

" True, illustrious Conde, and I humbly crave your pardon. 
It is, indeed, the duty of him that seeth to relate, as it is the 
duty of him that seeth not to believe. I hope all here will per- 
form their several duties." 

"Do these Indians eat fiesh as remarkable as their bread?" 
inquired a Cerda. 

"That do they, noble sir, seeing that they eat each other. 
Neither I nor Don Christopher was invited to any of their 
feasts of this sort ; for, I suppose, they were well convinced 
we would not go ; but we had much information touching 
them, and by the nearest calculation I could make, the con- 
sumption of men in the island of Bohio must be about equal to 
that of beeves in Spain. " 

The speaker was interrupted by twenty exclamations of dis- 
gust, and Peter Martyr shook his head like one who distrusted 
the truth of the account. Still, as he had not expected any 
very profound philosophy or deep learning in one of Sancho' s 
character, he pursued the conversation. 

" Know you any thing of the rare birds the admiral exhibited 
to their Highnesses to-day 2" he asked. 

" Seiior, I am well acquainted with several, more particularly 
with the parrots. They are sensible birds, and, I doubt not, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 403 

might answer some of the questions that are put to me "by many 
here, in Barcelona, to their perfect satisfaction." 

" Thou art a wag, I see, Seiior Sancho, and lovest thy joke," 
answered the man of learning, with a smile. " Give way to 
thy fancy, and if thou canst not improve us with thy science, 
at least amuse us with thy conceits." 

" San Pedro knows that I would do any thing to oblige you, 
Senores ; but I was born with such a love of truth in my heart, 
that I know not how to embellish. What I see I believe, and 
having been in the Indies, I cannot shut my eyes to their won- 
ders. There was the sea of weeds, which was no every-day 
miracle, since I make no doubt that the devils piled all these 
plants on the water to prevent us from carrying the cross to the 
poor heathens who dwell on the other side of them. We got 
through that sea more by our prayers, than by means of the 
winds." 

The young men looked at Peter Martyr, to ascertain how he 
received this theory, and Peter Martyr, if tinctured with the 
superstition of the age, was not disposed to swallow all that it 
pleased Sancho to assert, even though the latter had made a 
voyage tc the Indies. 

" Since you manifest so much curiosity, Senores, on the sub- 
ject of Colon, now Admiral of the Ocean Sea, by their High- 
nesses' honorable appointment, I will, in a measure, relieve your 
minds on the subject, by recounting what I know," said Luis, 
speaking calmly, but with dignity. " Ye know that I was 
much with Don Christopher before he sailed, and that I had 
some little connection with bringing him back to Santa Fe, 
even when he had left the place, as was supposed for the last 
time. This intimacy hath been renewed since the arrival of 
the great Genoese at Barcelona, and hours have we passed 
together in private, discoursing on the events of the last few 
months. What I have thus learned I am ready to impart, if 
ye will do me the grace to listen." 

The whole company giving an eager assent, Luis now com- 
menced a general narrative of the voyage, detailing all the lead- 



464 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

ing circumstances of interest, and giving the reasons that were 
most in favor at the time, concerning the different phenomena 
that had perplexed the adventurers. He spoke more than an 
hour; proceeding consecutively from island to island, and 
dilating on their productions, imaginary and real. Much that 
he related, proceeded from the misconceptions of the admiral, 
and misinterpretations of the signs and language of the Indians, 
as a matter of course ; but it was all told clearly, in elegant, if 
not in eloquent language, and with a singular air of truth. In 
short, our hero palmed upon his audience the results of his own 
observation, as the narrative of the admiral, and more than once 
was he interrupted by bursts of admiration at the vividness and 
graphic beauties of his descriptions. Even Sancho listened 
with delight, and when the young man concluded, he rose from 
his chair, and exclaimed heartily — 

" Sefiores, you may take all this as so much gospel ! Had 
the noble Senor witnessed, himself, that which he hath so well 
described, it could not have been truer, and I look on myself 
to be particularly fortunate to have heard this history of the 
voyage, which henceforth shall be my history, word for word ; 
for as my patron saint shall remember me, naught else will I 
tell to the gossips of Moguer, when I get back to that blessed 
town of my childhood." 

Sancho' s influence was much impaired by the effects of Luis' 
narrative^ which Peter Martyr pronounced to be one that would 
have done credit to a scholar who had accompanied the expedi- 
tion. A few appeals were made to the old seaman, to see if he 
would corroborate the statements he had just heard, but his 
protestations became so much the louder in behalf of the ac- 
curacy of the account. 

It was wonderful how much reputation the Conde de Llera 
obtained by this little deception. To be able to repeat, with 
accuracy and effect, language that was supposed to have fallen 
from the lips of Columbus, was a sort of illustration ; and Peter 
Martyr, who justly enjoyed a high reputation for intelligence, 
was heard sounding the praises of our hero in all places, his 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 



465 



young pupils echoing liis words with the ardor and imitation of 
youth ! Such, indeed, was the vast reputation obtained by the 
Genoese, that one gained a species of reflected renown by being 
thought to live in his confidence, and a thousand follies of the 
Count of Llera, real or imaginary, were forgotten in the fact 
that the admiral had deemed him worthy of being the reposi- 
tory of facts and feelings such as he had related. As Luis, 
moreover, was seen to be much in the company of Don Chris- 
topher, the world was very willing to give the young man cred- 
it for qualities that, by some unexplained circumstance, had 
hitherto escaped its notice. In this manner did Luis de Boba- 
dilla reap some advantages, of a public character, from his res- 
olution and enterprise, although vastly less than would have 
attended an open admission of all that occurred. How far, and 
in what manner, these qualities availed him in his suit with 
Mercedes, will appear in our subsequent pages. 




406 MERCEDES OF CASTILE 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

44 Each look, each motion, waked a new-born grace, 
That o'er her form its transient glory cast : 
Some lovelier wonder soon usurpM the place, 
Chased by a charm still lovelier than the last." 

Mason. 

The day of the reception of Columbus at Barcelona, had 
been one of tumultuous feelings and of sincere delight, with the 
ingenuous and pure-minded Queen of Castile. She had been 
the moving spirit of the enterprise, as it was connected with 
authority and means, and never was a sovereign more amply 
rewarded, by a consciousness of the magnitude of the results 
that followed her well-meant and zealous efforts. 

When the excitement and bustle of the day were over, Isa- 
bella retired to her closet, and there, as was usual with her on 
all great occasions, she poured out her thankfulness on her 
knees, entreating the Divine Providence to sustain her under 
the new responsibilities she felt, and to direct her steps aright, 
equally as a sovereign and as a Christian woman. She had left 
the attitude of prayer but a few minutes, and was seated with 
her head leaning on her hand, in deep meditation, when a slight 
knock at the door called her attention. There was but one per- 
son in Spain who would be likely to take even this liberty, 
guarded and modest as was the tap ; rising, she turned the key 
and admitted the king. 

Isabella was still beautiful. Her form, always of admirable 
perfection, still retained its grace. Her eyes had lost but little 
of their lustre, and her smile, ever sweet and beneficent, failed 
not to reflect the pure and womanly impulses of her heart. In 
a word, her youthful beauty had been but little impaired by the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 467 

usual transition to the matronly attractions of a wife and a moth- 
er ; but this night, all her youthful charms seemed to be sud- 
denly renewed. Her cheek was flushed with holy enthusiasm ; 
her figure dilated with the sublimity of the thoughts in which 
she had been indulging ; and her eyes beamed with the enno- 
bling hopes of religious enthusiasm. Ferdinand was struck with 
this little change, and he stood admiring her, for a minute, in 
silence, after he had closed the door. 

"Is not this a most wonderful reward, for efforts so small, my 
husband and love?" exclaimed the queen, who fancied the king's 
thoughts similar to her own ; " a new empire thus cheaply pur- 
chased, with riches that the imagination cannot tell, and millions 
of souls to be redeemed from eternal woe, by means of a grace 
that must be as unexpected to themselves, as the knowledge of 
their existence hath been to us !" 

" Ever thinking, Isabella, of the welfare of souls ! But thou 
art right ; for what are the pomps and glories of the world to 
the hopes of salvation, and the delights of heaven ! I confess 
Colon hath much exceeded all my hopes, and raised such a fu- 
ture for Spain, that the mind scarce knoweth where to place the 
limits to its pictures." 

"Think of the millions of poor Indians that may live to bless 
our sway, and to feel the influence and consolations of holy 
church !" 

"I trust that our kinsman and neighbor, Dom Joao, will not 
give us trouble in this matter. Your Portuguese have so keen 
an appetite for discoveries, that they little relish the success of 
other powers ; and, it is said, many dangerous and wicked pro- 
posals were made to the king, even while our caravels lay in the 
Tagus." 

" Colon assureth me, Fernando, that he doubteth if these In- 
dians have now any religious creed, so that our ministers w r ill 
have no prejudices to encounter, in presenting to their simple 
minds the sublime truths of the gospel !" 

" No doubt the admiral hath fully weighed these matters. It 
is his opinion, that the island he hath called Espanola wanteth 



468 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

but little of being of the full dimensions of Castile, Leon, 
Aragon, Granada, and, indeed, of all our possessions within the 
peninsula I" 

" Didst thou attend to what he said, touching the gentleness 
and mildness of the inhabitants ? And wert thou not struck 
with the simple, confiding aspects of those he hath brought 
with him ? Such a people may readily be brought, first, as is 
due, to worship the one true and living God, and next, to regard 
their sovereigns as kind and benignant parents." 

" Authority can ever make itself respected ; and Don Chris- 
topher hath assured me, in a private conference, that a thousand 
tried lances would overrun all that eastern region. We must 
make early application to the Holy Father to settle such limits 
between us and Don John, as may prevent disputes, hereafter, 
touching our several interests. I have already spoken to the 
cardinal on this subject, and he flattereth me with the hope of 
having the ear of Alexander." 

" I trust that the means of disseminating the faith of the cross 
will not be overlooked in the negotiation ; for it paineth me to 
find churchmen treating of worldly things, to the utter neglect 
of those of their Great Master." 

Don Ferdinand regarded his wife intently for an instant, 
without making any reply. He perceived, as often happened 
in questions of policy, that their feelings were not exactly 
attuned, and he had recourse to an allusion that seldom failed 
to draw the thoughts of Isabella from their loftier aspirations to 
considerations more worldly, when rightly applied. 

" Thy children, Dona Isabella, will reap a goodly heritage 
by the success of this, our latest and greatest stroke of policy ! 
Thy dominions and mine will henceforth descend in common to 
the same heir ; then this marriage in Portugal may open the 
way to new accessions of territory ; Granada is already secured 
to thine, by our united arms ; and here hath Providence opened 
the way to an empire in the east, that promiseth to outdo all 
that hath yet been performed in Europe." 

" Are not my children thine, Fernando ? Can good happen 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 469 

to one, without its equally befalling the other ? I trust they 
will learn to understand why so many new subjects and such 
wide territories are added to their possessions, and will ever re- 
main true to their highest and first duty, that of spreading the 
gospel, that the sway of the one Catholic church may the more 
speedily be accomplished." 

" Still it may be necessary to secure advantages that are 
offered in a worldly shape, by worldly means." 

" Thou say'st true, my lord ; and it is the proper care of 
loving parents to look well to the interest of their offspring in 
this, as in all other particulars." 

Isabella now lent a more willing ear to the politic sugges- 
tions of her consort, and they passed an hour in discussing 
some of the important measures that it was thought their joint 
interests required should be immediately attended to. After 
this, Ferdinand saluted his wife affectionately, and withdrew 
to his own cabinet, to labor, as usual, until his frame demanded 
rest. 

Isabella sat musing for a few minutes after the king had re- 
tired, and then she took a light and proceeded through certain 
private passages, with which she was familiar, to the apartment 
of her daughters. Here she spent an hour, indulging in the 
affections and discharging the duties of a careful mother, when, 
embracing each in turn, she gave her blessings, and left the 
place in the same simple manner as she had entered. Instead, 
however, of returning to her own part of the palace, she pur- 
sued her way in an opposite direction, until, reaching a private 
door, she gently tapped. A voice within bade her enter, and 
complying, the Queen of Castile found herself alone with her 
old and tried friend, the Marchioness of Moya. A quiet gesture 
forbade all the usual testimonials of respect, and knowing her 
mistress' wishes in this particular, the hostess received her 
illustrious guest, much as she would have received an intimate 
of her own rank in life. 

" We have had so busy and joyful a day, Daughter-Mar- 
chioness," the queen commenced, quietly setting down the little 



470 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

silver lamp she carried, "that I had near forgotten a duty 
which ought not to be overlooked. Thy nephew, the Count de 
Llera, hath returned to court, bearing himself as modestly and 
as prudently, as if he had no share in the glory of this great 
success of Colon's !" 

" Seiiora, Luis is here, but whether prudent or modest, I 
leave for others, who may be less partial, to say." 

" To me such seemeth to be his deportment, and a young 
mind might be pardoned some exultation at such a result. But 
I have come to speak of Don Luis and thy ward. Now 
that thy nephew hath given me this high proof of his perseve- 
rance and courage, there can remain no longer any reason for 
forbidding their union. Thou know'st that I hold the pledged 
word of Dona Mercedes, not to marry without my consent, and 
this night will I make her happy as I feel myself, by leaving 
her mistress of her own wishes ; nay, by letting her know 
that I desire to see her Countess of Llera, and that right 
speedily." 

"Your Highness is all goodness to me and mine," returned 
the Marchioness, coldly. " Mercedes ought to feel deeply 
grateful that her royal mistress hath a thought for her welfare, 
when her mind hath so many greater concerns to occupy it." 

"It is that, my friend, that hath brought me hither at this 
late hour. My soul is truly burdened with gratitude, and ere 
I sleep, were it possible, I would fain make all as blessed as I 
feel myself. Where is thy ward ?" 

" She left me for the night, but as your Highness entered. 
I will summon her to hear your pleasure." 

" We will go to her, Beatriz ; tidings such as I bring, should 
not linger on weary feet." 

" It is her duty, and it would be her pleasure to pay all re- 
spect, Seiiora." 

" I know that well, Marchioness, but it is my pleasure to bear 
this news myself," interrupted the queen, leading the way to 
the door. " Show thou the way, which is better known to thee 
than to another. We go with little state and ceremony, as 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 47l 

thou seest, like Colon going forth to explore his unknown seas, 
and we go bearers of tidings as grateful to thy ward, as those the 
Genoese bore to the benighted natives of Cipango. These cor- 
ridors are our trackless seas, and all these intricate passages, the 
hidden ways we are to explore." 

" Heaven grant your Highness make not some discovery as 
astounding as that which the Genoese hath just divulged. For 
myself, I scarce know whether to believe all things, or to grant 
faith to none." 

u I wonder not at thy surprise ; it is a feeling that hath over- 
come all others, through the late extraordinary events," answered 
the queen, evidently misconceiving the meaning of her friend's 
words. "But we have still another pleasure in store : that of 
witnessing the joy of a pure female heart which hath had its 
trials, and which hath borne them as became a Christian 
maiden." 

Dona Beatriz sighed heavily, but she made no answer. By 
this time they were crossing the little saloon in which Mer- 
cedes was permitted to receive her female acquaintances, and 
were near the door of her chamber. Here they met a maid, 
who hastened onward to inform her mistress of the visit she 
was about to receive. Isabella was accustomed to use a moth- 
er's liberties with those she loved, and, opening the door, with- 
out ceremony, she stood before our heroine, ere the latter could 
advance to meet her. 

"Daughter," commenced the queen, seating herself, and 
smiling benignantly on the startled girl, " I have come to dis- 
charge a solemn duty. Kneel thou here, at my feet, and listen 
to thy sovereign as thou wouldst listen to a mother." 

Mercedes gladly obeyed, for, at that moment, any thing was 
preferable to being required to speak. When she had knelt, 
the queen passed an arm affectionately round her neck, and 
drew her closer to her person, until, by a little gentle violence, 
the face of Mercedes was hid in the folds of Isabella's robe. 

" I have all reason to extol *thy faith and duty, child," said 
the queen, as soon as this little arrangement to favor the feel- 



472 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

ings of Mercedes, had been considerately made ; " thou hast 
not forgotten thy promise, in aught ; and my object, now, is to 
leave thee mistress of thine own inclinations, and to remove all 
impediments to their exercise. Thou hast no longer any pledge 
with thy sovereign ; for one who hath manifested so much discre- 
tion and delicacy, may be surely trusted with her own happiness." 

Mercedes continued silent, though Isabella fancied that she 
felt a slight shudder passing convulsively through her delicate 
frame. 

"No answer, daughter? Is it more preferable to leave 
another arbitress of thy fate, than to exercise that office for 
thyself? Well, then, as thy sovereign and parent, I will sub- 
stitute command for consent, and tell thee it is my wish and 
desire that thou becomest, as speedily as shall comport with 
propriety and thy high station, the wedded wife of Don Luis 
de Bobadilla, Conde de Llera." 

" No — no — no — Senora — never — never" — murmured Mer- 
cedes, her voice equally stifled by her emotions, and by the 
manner in which she had buried her face in the dress of the 
queen. 

Isabella looked at the Marchioness of Moya in wonder. Her 
countenance did not express either displeasure or resentment, 
for she too well knew the character of our heroine to suspect 
caprice, or any weak prevarication in a matter that so deeply 
touched the feelings ; and the concern she felt was merely over- 
shadowed at the suddenness of the intelligence, by a feeling of 
ungovernable surprise. 

" Canst thou explain this, Beatriz f" the queen at length in- 
quired. " Have I done harm, where I most intended good ? I 
am truly unfortunate, for I appear to have deeply wounded the 
heart of this child, at the very moment I fancied I was confer- 
ring supreme happiness I" 

"No — no — no — Senora,' ? again murmured Mercedes, cling- 
ing convulsively to the queen's knees. "Your Highness hath 
wounded no one — would wound no one — can wound no one — 
you are all gracious goodness and though tfulness." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE, 473 

u Beatriz, I look to thee for the explanation ! Hath aught 
justifiable occurred to warrant this change of feeling !" 

" I fear, dearest Seiiora, that the feelings continue too much 
as formerly, and that the change is not in this young and un- 
practised heart, but in the fickle inclinations of man." 

A flash of womanly indignation darted from the usually 
serene eyes of the queen, and her form assumed all of its native 
majesty. 

" Can this be true?" she exclaimed. " "Would a subject of 
Castile dare thus to trifle with his sovereign — thus to trifle with 
one sweet and pure as this girl — thus to trifle with his faith 
with God ! If the reckless Conde thinketh to do these acts 
of wrongfulness with impunity, let him look to it ! Shall I pun- 
ish him that merely depriveth his neighbor of some paltry 
piece of silver, and let him escape who woundeth the soul ? I 
wonder at thy calmness, Daughter-Marchioness; thou, who art 
so wont to let an honest indignation speak out in the just lan- 
guage of a fearless and honest spirit !" 

" Alas ! Seiiora, my beloved mistress, my feelings have had 
vent already, and nature will no more. This boy, moreover, is 
my brother's son, and when I would fain arouse a resentment 
against him, such as bcfitteth his offence, the image of that dear 
brother, whose very picture he is, hath arisen to my mind in a 
way to weaken all its energy." 

" This is most unusual ! A creature so fair — so young — so 
noble — so rich — every way so excellent, to be so soon forgot- 
ten ! Canst thou account for it by any wandering inclination, 
Lady of Moya ?" 

Isabella spoke musingly, and, as one of her high rank is apt 
to overlook minor considerations, when the feelings are strongly 
excited, she did not remember that Mercedes was a listener. 
The convulsive shudder that again shook the frame of our 
heroine, however, did not fail to remind her of this fact, and 
the queen could not have pressed the Princess Juana more 
fondly to her heart, than she now drew the yielding form of our 
heroine. 



474 M-ERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" What would you, Senora?" returned the marchioness, 
bitterly. "Luis, thoughtless and unprincipled boy as he is, 
hath induced a youthful Indian princess to abandon home and 
friends, under the pretence of swelling the triumph of the ad- 
miral, but really, in obedience to a wandering fancy, and in 
submission to those evil caprices, that make men what, in sooth, 
they are, and which so often render unhappy women their 
dupes and their victims." 

"An Indian princess, say'st thou? The admiral made one 
of that rank known to us, but she was already a wife, and far 
from being one to rival Dona Mercedes of Valverde." 

"Ah ! dearest Senora, she of whom you sped,£ will not com- 
pare with her I mean — Ozema — for so is the Indian lady called 
— Ozema is a different being, and is not without high claims 
to personal beauty. Could mere personal appearances justify 
the conduct of the boy, he would not be altogether without 
excuse." 

" How know'st thou this, Beatriz?" 

" Because, your Highness, Luis hath brought her to the pal- 
ace, and she is, at this moment, in these very apartments. Mer- 
cedes hath received her like a sister, even while the stranger 
hath unconsciously crushed her heart." 

"Here, say'st thou, Marchioness? Then can there be no 
vicious union between the thoughtless young man and the 
stranger. Thy nephew would not thus presume to offend virtue 
and innocence." 

" Of that we complain not, Senora. 'Tis the boyish incon- 
stancy and thoughtless cruelty of the count, that hath awakened 
my feelings against him. Never have I endeavored to influence 
my ward to favor his suit, for I would not that they should have 
it in their power to say I sought a union so honorable and ad- 
vantageous to our house ; but now do I most earnestly desire 
her to steel her noble heart to his unworthiness." 

" Ah ! Senora — my guardian," murmured Mercedes, " Luis is 
not so very culpable. Ozema' s beauty, and my own want of the 
means to keep him true, are alone to blame." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 475 

" Ozema' s beauty!" slowly repeated the queen. " Is this 
young Indian, then, so very perfect, Beatriz, that thy ward need 
fear or envy her ? I did not think that such a being lived !" 

"Your Highness knoweth how it is with men. They love 
novelties, and are most captivated with the freshest faces. San 
Iago ! — Andres de Cabrera hath caused me to know this, though 
it were a crime to suppose any could teach this hard lesson to 
Isabella of Trastamara." 

"Kestrain thy strong and impetuous feelings, Daughter- 
Marchioness," returned the queen, glancing her eye at the 
bowed form of Mercedes, whose head was now buried in her 
lap; "truth seldom asserts its fullest power when the heart is 
overflowing with feeling. Don Andres hath been a loyal sub- 
ject, and doth justice to thy merit ; and, as to my lord the 
king, he is the father of my children, as well as thy sovereign. 
But, touching this Ozema — can I see her, Beatriz?" 

"You have only to command, Seiiora, to see whom you 
please. But Ozema is, no doubt, at hand, and can be brought 
into your presence as soon as it may please your Highness to 
order it done." 

u Nay, Beatriz, if she be a princess, and a stranger in the 
kingdom, there is a consideration due to her rank and to her 
position. Let Dona Mercedes go and prepare her to receive us ; 
I will visit her in her own apartment. The hour is late, but 
she will overlook the want of ceremony in the desire to do her 
service." 

Mercedes did not wait a second bidding, but, rising from her 
knees, she hastened to do as the queen had suggested. Isabella 
and the marchioness were silent some little time, when left to 
themselves ; then the former, as became her rank, opened the 
discourse. 

" It is remarkable, Beatriz, that Colon should not have spoken 
to me of this princess !" she said. " One of her condition ought 
not to have entered Spain with so little ceremony." 

" The admiral hath deemed her the chosen subject of Luis' 
care, and hath left her to be presented to your Highness by my 



476 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

recreant nephew. Ah, Senora ! is it not wonderful, that one 
like* Mercedes could be so soon supplanted by a half-naked, un- 
baptized, benighted being, on whom the church hath never yet 
smiled, and whose very soul may be said to be in jeopardy of 
instantaneous condemnation ?" 

"That soul must be cared for, Beatriz, and that right quickly. 
Is the princess really of sufficient beauty to supplant a creature 
as lovely as the Dona Mercedes?" 

"It is not that, Senora — it is not that. But men are fickle 
- — and they so love novelties ! Then is the modest restraint of 
cultivated manners less winning to them, than the freedom of 
those who deem even clothes superfluous. I mean not to ques- 
tion the modesty cf Ozema ; for, according to her habits, she 
seemeth irreproachable in this respect; but the ill-regulated 
fancy of a thoughtless boy may find a momentary attraction in 
her unfettered conduct and half-attired person, that is wanting 
to the air and manners of a high-born Spanish damsel, who 
hath been taught rigidly to respect herself and her sex." 

" This may be true, as toucheth the vulgar, Beatriz, but 
such unworthy motives can never influence the Conde de 
Llera. If thy nephew hath really proved the recreant thou 
supposest, this Indian princess must be of more excellence than 
we have thought." 

"Of that, Senora, you can soon judge for yourself; here is 
the maiden of Mercedes to inform us that the Indian is ready 
to receive the honor that your Highness intendeth." 

Our heroine had prepared Ozema to meet the queen. By 
this time, the young Haytian had caught so many Spanish 
words, that verbal communication with her was far from dif- 
ficult, though she still spoke in the disconnected and abrupt 
manner of one to whom the language was new. She under* 
stood perfectly that she was to meet that beloved sovereign, of 
whom Luis and Mercedes had so often spoken with reverence ; 
and accustomed, herself, to look up to caciques greater than her 
brother, there was no difficulty in making her understand that 
the person she was now about to receive was the first of her sex 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 477 

in Spain. The only misconception which existed, arose from 
the circumstance that Ozema believed Isabella to be the queen 
of all the Christian world, instead of being the queen of a par- 
ticular country ; for, in her imagination, both Luis and Mercedes 
were persons of royal station. 

Although Isabella was prepared to see a being of surprising 
perfection of form, she started with surprise, as her eye first fell 
on Ozema. It was not so much the beauty of the young In- 
dian that astonished her, as the native grace of her movements, 
the bright and happy expression of her countenance, and the 
perfect self-possession of her mien and deportment. Ozema 
had got accustomed to a degree "of dress that she would have 
found oppressive at Hayti ; the sensitiveness of Mercedes, on 
the subject of female propriety, having induced her to lavish 
on her new friend many rich articles of attire, that singularly, 
though wildly, contributed to aid her charms. Still the gift 
of Luis was thrown over one shoulder, as the highest-prized 
part of her wardrobe, and the cross of Mercedes rested on her 
bosom, the most precious of all her ornaments. 

"This is wonderful, Beatriz !" exclaimed the queen, as she 
stood at one side of the room, while Ozema bowed her body in 
graceful reverence on the other ; " can this rare being really 
have a soul that knoweth naught of its God and Redeemer ! 
But let her spirit be benighted as it may, there is no vice in 
that simple mind, or deceit in that pure heart." 

" Senora, all this is true. Spite of our causes of dissatisfac- 
tion, my ward and I both love her already, and could take her to 
our hearts forever ; one as a friend, and the other as a parent." 

M Princess," said the queen, advancing with quiet dignity 
to the spot where Ozema stood, with downcast eyes and bended 
body, waiting her pleasure, " thou art welcome to our domin- 
ions. The admiral hath done well in not classing one of thy 
evident claims and station among those whom he hath exhibited 
to vulgar eyes. In this he hath shown his customary judg- 
ment, no less than his deep respect for the sacred office of 
sovereigns." 



478 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Almirante !" exclaimed Ozema, her looks brightening with 
intelligence, for she had long known how to pronounce the 
well-earned title of Columbus ; " Almirante, Mercedes — Isa- 
bella, Mercedes — Luis, Mercedes, Senora Keyna." 

" Beatriz, what meaneth this ? Why doth the princess coup- 
le the name of thy ward with that of Colon, with mine, and 
even with that of the young Count of Llera?" 

" Senora, by some strange delusion, she hath got to think 
that Mercedes is the Spanish term for every thing that is ex- 
cellent or perfect, and thus doth she couple it with all that she 
most desireth to praise. Your Highness must observe that she 
even united Luis and Mercedes, a union that we once fondly 
hoped might happen, but which now would seem to be impossi- 
ble ; and which she herself must be the last really to wish." 

" Strange delusion!" repeated the queen; "the idea hath 
had its birth in some particular cause, for things like this come 
not of accidents; who but thy nephew, Beatriz, would know 
aught of thy ward, or who but he would have taught the prin- 
cess to deem her very name a sign of excellence ?" 

"Senora!" exclaimed Mercedes, the color mounting to her 
pale cheek, and joy momentarily flashing in her eyes, " can 
this be so ?" 

" Why not, daughter? We may have been too hasty in 
this matter, and mistaken what are truly signs of devotion to 
thee, for proofs of fickleness and inconstancy." 

" Ah ! Senora ! but this can never be, else would not Ozema 
so love him." 

" How know'st thou, child, that the princess hath any other 
feeling for the count than that which properly belongeth to one 
who is grateful for his care, and for the inexpressible service of 
being made acquainted with the virtues of the cross ? Here is 
some rash error, Beatriz." 

" I fear not, your Highness. Touching the nature of Oze- 
ma's feelings, there can be no misconception, since the inno- 
cent and unpractised creature hath not art sufficient to conceal 
them. That her heart is all Luis', we discovered in the first 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 479 

few hours of our intercourse; and it is too pure, unsought, to 
be won. The feeling of the Indian is not merely admiration, 
but it is such a passionate devotion, as partaketh of the warmth 
of that sun, which, we are told, glows with a heat so genial in 
her native clime." 

" Could one see so much of Don Luis, Senora," added Mer- 
cedes, " under circumstances to try his martial virtues, and so 
long daily be in communion with his excellent heart, and not 
come to view him as far above all others ?" 

"Martial virtues — excellent heart!" — slowly repeated the 
queen, "and yet so regardless of the wrong he doeth! He is 
neither knight nor cavalier worthy of the sex, if what thou 
thinkest be true, child." 

" Nay, Senora," earnestly resumed the girl, whose diffidence 
was yielding to the wish to vindicate our hero, " the princess 
hath told us of the manner in which he rescued her from her 
greatest enemy and persecutor, Caonabo, a headstrong and 
tyrannical sovereign of her island, and of his generous self- 
devotion in her behalf." 

"Daughter, do thou withdraw, and, first calling on Holy 
Maria to intercede for thee, seek the calm of religious peace 
and submission, on thy pillow. Beatriz, I will question the 
princess alone." 

The marchioness and Mercedes immediately withdrew, leaving 
Isabella with Ozema, in possession of the room. The interview 
that followed lasted more than an hour, that time being nec- 
essary to enable the queen to form an opinion of the stranger's 
explanations, with the imperfect means of communication she 
possessed. That Ozema' s whole heart was Luis', Isabella could 
not doubt. Unaccustomed to conceal her preferences, the In- 
dian girl was too unpractised to succeed in such a design, had 
she even felt the desire to attempt it ; but, in addition to her 
native ingenuousness, Ozema believed that duty required her to 
have no concealments from the sovereign of Luis, and she laid 
bare her whole soul in the simplest and least disguised manner. 

" Princess," said the queen, after the conversation had lasted 



480 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

some time, and Isabella believed herself to be in possession of 
tlie means of comprehending her companion, " I now under- 
stand your tale. Caonabo is the chief, or, if thou wilt, the king 
of a country adjoining thine own ; he sought thee for a wife, 
but being already married to more than one princess, thou dids 
very properly reject his unholy proposals. He then attempted 
to seize thee by violence. The Conde de Llera was on a visit 
to thy brother at the time" — 

" Luis—Luis" — the girl impatiently interrupted, in her sweet, 
soft voice — " Luis no Conde — Luis." 

" True, princess, but the Conde de Llera and Luis de Boba- 
dilla are one and the same person. Luis, then, if thou wilt, 
was present in thy palace, and he beat back the presumptuous 
cacique, who, not satisfied with fulfilling the law of God by the 
possession of one wife, impiously sought, in thy person, a sec- 
ond, or a third, and brought thee off in triumph. Thy brother, 
next, requested thee to take shelter, for a time, in Spain, and 
Don Luis, becoming thy guardian and protector, hath brought 
thee hither to the care of his aunt j" 

Ozema bowed her head in acknowledgment of the truth of this 
statement, most of which she had no difficulty in understanding, 
the subject having, of late, occupied so much of her thoughts. 

" And, now, princess," continued Isabella, " I must speak to 
thee with maternal frankness, for I deem all of thy birth my 
children while they dwell in my realms, and have a right to 
look to me for advice and protection. Hast thou any such love 
for Don Luis as would induce thee to forget thine own country, 
and to adopt his in its stead ?" 

"Ozema don't know what ' adopt his,' means," observed the 
puzzled girl. 

"I wish to inquire if thou wouldst consent to become the 
wife of Don Luis de Bobadilla?" 

"Wife" and " husband" were words of which the Indian 
girl had early learned the signification, and she smiled guileless- 
ly, even while she blushed, and nodded her assent. 

" I am, then, to understand that thou expectest to marry the 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 481 

count, for no modest young female like, thee, would so cheer- 
fully avow her preference, without having that hope ripened in 
her heart, to something like a certainty." 

" Si, Senora — Ozema, Luis' wife." 

" Thou meanest, princess, that Ozema expecteth shortly to 
wed the count — shortly to become his wife !" 

" No — no — no — Ozema now Luis' wife. Luis marry Ozema, 
already." 

" Can this be so ?" exclaimed the queen, looking steadily 
into the face of the beautiful Indian to ascertain if the whole 
were not an artful deception. But the open and innocent face 
betrayed no guilt, and Isabella felt compelled to believe what 
she had heard. In order, however, to make certain of the fact, 
she questioned and cross-questioned Ozema, for near half an 
hour longer, and always with the same result. 

When the queen arose to withdraw, she kissed the princess, 
for so she deemed this wild creature of an unknown and novel 
state of society, and whispered a devout prayer for the enlight- 
enment of her mind, and for her future peace. On reaching 
her own apartment, she found the Marchioness of Moya in at- 
tendance, that tried friend being unable to sleep until she had 
learned the impressions of her royal mistress. 

" 'Tis even worse than we had imagined, Beatriz," said Isa- 
bella, as the other closed the door behind her. " Thine heart- 
less, inconstant nephew hath already wedded the Indian, and 
she is, at this moment, his lawful wife." 

" Senora, there must be some mistake in this ! The rash 
boy would hardly dare to practise this imposition on me, and 
that in the very presence of Mercedes." 

"He would sooner place his wife in thy care, Daughter-Mar- 
chioness, than make the same disposition of one who had fewer 
claims on him. But there can be no mistake. I have ques- 
tioned the princess closely, and no doubt remaineth in my mind, 
that the nuptials have been solemnized by religious rites. It is 
not easy to understand all she would wish to say, but that 
much she often and distinctly hath affirmed." 



4.82 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

"Your Highness — can a Christian contract marriage with 
one that is yet unbaptized ?" 

" Certainly not, in the eye of the church, which is the eye 
of God. But I rather think Ozema hath received this holy rite, 
for she often pointed to the cross she weareth, when speaking 
of the union with thy nephew. Indeed, from her allusions, I 
understood her to say that she became a Christian, ere she be- 
came a wife." 

" And that blessed cross, Senora, was a gift of Mercedes to 
the reckless, fickle-minded boy; a parting gift in which the 
holy symbol was intended to remind him of constancy and 
faith !" 

" The world maketh so many inroads into the hearts of men, 
Beatriz, that they know not woman's reliance and woman's 
fidelity. But to thy knees, and bethink thee of asking for 
grace to sustain thy ward, in this cruel, but unavoidable 
extremity." 

Isabella now turned to her friend, who advanced and raised 
the hand of her royal mistress to her lips. The queen, how- 
ever, was not content with this salutation, warm as it was; 
passing an arm around the neck of Dona Beatriz, she drew her 
to her person, and imprinted a kiss on her forehead. 

"Adieu, Beatriz — true friend as thou art!" she said. "If 
constancy hath deserted all others, it hath still an abode in thy 
faithful heart." 

With these words the queen and the marchioness separated, 
each to find her pillow, if not her repose. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 4S3 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

44 Now, Gondarino, what can you put on now 
That may deceive us ? 

Have ye more strange illusions, yet more mists, 
Through which the weak eye may be led to error ? 
What can ye say that may do satisfaction 
Both for her wronged honor and your ill ?" 

Beaumont and Fletchjbb. 

The day which succeeded the interview related in the pre- 
ceding chapter, was that which Cardinal Mendoza had selected 
for the celebrated banquet given to Columbus. On this occa- 
sion, most of the high nobility of the court were assembled in 
honor of the admiral, who was received with a distinction which 
fell little short of that usually devoted to crowned heads. The 
Genoese bore himself modestly, though nobly, in all these cere- 
monies ; and, for the hour, all appeared to delight in doing jus- 
tice to his great exploits, and to sympathize in a success so much 
surpassing the general expectation. Every eye seemed riveted 
on his person, every ear listened eagerly to the syllables as 
they fell from his lips, every voice was loud and willing in his 
praise. 

As a matter of course, on such an occasion, Columbus was 
expected to give some account of his voyage and adventures. 
This was not an easy task, since it was virtually asserting how 
much his own perseverance and spirit, his sagacity and skill, 
were superior to the knowledge and enterprise of the age. Still, 
the admiral acquitted himself with dexterity and credit, touch- 
ing principally on those heads which most redounded to the 
glory of Spain, and the lustre of the two crowns. 

Among the guests was Luis de Bobadilla. The young man 
had been invited on account of his high rank, and in considera- 



484 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

tion of the confidence and familiarity with which he was evi- 
dently treated by the admiral. The friendship of Columbus 
was more than sufficient to erase the slightly unfavorable im- 
pressions that had been produced by Luis' early levities, and 
men quietly submitted to the influence of the great man's ex- 
ample, without stopping to question the motive or the end. The 
consciousness of having done that which few of his station and 
hopes would ever dream of attempting, gave to the proud mien 
and handsome countenance of Luis, a seriousness and elevation 
that had not always been seated there, and helped to sustain 
him in the good opinion that he had otherwise so cheaply pur- 
chased. The manner in which he had related to Peter Martyr 
and his companions the events of the expedition, was also re- 
membered, and, without understanding exactly why, the world 
was beginning to associate him, in some mysterious manner, 
with the great western voyage. Owing to these accidental cir- 
cumstances, our hero was actually reaping some few of the ad- 
vantages of his spirit, though in a way he had never anticipated ; 
a result by no means extraordinary, men as often receiving ap- 
plause, or reprobation, for acts that were never meditated, as 
for those for which reason and justice would hold them rigidly 
responsible. 

" Here is a health to my lord, their Highnesses' Admiral of 
the Ocean Sea," cried Luis de St. Angel, raising his cup so that 
all at the board might witness the act. " Spain oweth him her 
gratitude for the boldest and most beneficial enterprise of the 
age, and no good subject of the two sovereigns will hesitate to 
do him honor for his services." 

The bumper was drunk, and the meek acknowledgments of 
Columbus listened to in respectful silence. 

"Lord Cardinal," resumed the free-speaking accountant of 
the church's revenues, "I look upon the church's cure as 
'doubled by these discoveries, and esteem the number of souls 
that will be rescued from perdition by the means that will now be 
employed to save them, as forming no small part of the lustre of 
the exploit, and a thing not likely to be forgotten at Rome." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 485 

"Thou say'st well, good de St. Angel," returned the cardi- 
nal, " and the Holy Father will not overlook God's agent, or 
his assistants. Knowledge came from the east, and we have 
long looked forward to the time when, purified by revelation 
and the high commission that we hold direct from the source 
of all power, it would be rolled backward to its place of begin- 
ning ; but we now see that its course is still to be westward, 
reaching Asia by a path that, until this great discovery, was hid 
from human eyes." 

Although so much apparent sympathy ruled at the festival, 
the human heart was at work, and envy, the basest, and perhaps 
the most common of our passions, was fast swelling in more 
than one breath. The remark of the cardinal produced an 
exhibition of the influence of this unworthy feeling that might 
otherwise have been smothered. Among the guests was a 
noble of the name of Juan de Orbitello, and he could listen no 
longer, in silence, to the praises of those whose breath he had 
been accustomed to consider fame. 

" Is it so certain, holy sir," he said, addressing his host, 
" that God would not have directed other means to be em- 
ployed, to effect this end, had these of Don Christopher failed? 
Or, are we to look upon this voyage as the only known way in 
which all these heathen could be rescued from perdition ?" 

" No one may presume, Senor, to limit the agencies of 
heaven," returned the cardinal, gravely; "nor is it the office 
of man to question the means employed, or to doubt the power 
to create others, as wisdom may dictate. Least of all, should 
laymen call in question aught that the church sanctioneth." 

" This I admit, Lord Cardinal," answered the Senor de Orbi- 
tello, a little embarrassed, and somewhat vexed at the implied 
rebuke of the churchman's remarks, "and it was the least of 
my intentions to do so. But you, Senor Don Christopher, 
did you deem yourself an agent of heaven in this expedition ?" 

" I have always considered myself a most unworthy instru- 
ment, set apart for this great end, Senor," returned the admiral, 
with a grave solemnity that was well suited to impose on the 
21 



486 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

spectators. " From the first, I have felt this impulse, as being 
of divine origin, and I humbly trust heaven is not displeased 
with the creature it hath employed." 

" Do you then imagine, Senor Almirante, that Spain could 
not produce another, fitted equally with yourself, to execute 
this great enterprise, had any accident j)revented either your 
sailing or your success ?" 

The boldness, as well as the singularity of this question, pro- 
duced a general pause in the conversation, and every head was 
bent a little forward in expectation of the reply. Columbus 
sat silent for more than a minute ; then, reaching forward, he 
took an egg, and holding it up to view, he spoke mildly, but 
with great gravity and earnestness of manner. 

" Senores," he said, "is there one here of sufficient expert- 
ness to cause this egg to stand on its end ? If such a man be 
present, I challenge him to give us an exhibition of his skill." 

The request produced a good deal of surprise ; but a dozen 
immediately attempted the exploit, amid much laughter and 
many words. More than once, some young noble thought he 
had succeeded, but the instant his fingers quitted the egg, it 
rolled upon the table, as if in mockery of his awkwardness. 

" By Saint Luke, Senor Almirante, but this notable achieve- 
ment surpasseth our skill," cried Juan de Orbit ello. " Here is 
the Conde de Llera, who hath slain so many Moors, and who 
hath even unhorsed Alonzo de Ojeda, in a tourney, can make 
nothing of his egg, in the way you mention." 

" And yet it will no longer be difficult to him, or even to you, 
Senor, when the art shall be exposed." 

Saying thus, Columbus tapped the smaller end of his egg 
lightly on the table, when, the shell being forced in, it possessed 
a base on which it stood firmly and without tremor. A mur- 
mur of applause followed this rebuke, and the Lord of Orbitello 
was fain to shrink back into an insignificance, from which it 
would have been better for him never to have emerged. At 
this precise instant a royal page spoke to the admiral, and then 
passed on to the seat of Don Luis de Bobadilla. 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 487 

" I am summoned hastily to the presence of the queen, Lord 
Cardinal," observed the admiral, " and look, to your grace for 
an apology for my withdrawing. The business is of weight, by 
the manner of the message, and you will pardon my now quit- 
ting the board, though it seem early." 

The usual reply was made ; and, bowed to the door by his 
host and all present, Columbus quitted the room. Almost at 
the same instant, he was followed by the Conde de Llera. 

" "Whither goest thou, in this hurry, Don Luis V demanded 
the admiral, as the other joined him. " Art thou in so great 
haste to quit a banquet such as Spain hath not often seen, ex- 
cept in the palaces of her kings V J 

"By San Iago ! nor there, neither, Senor," answered the 
young man, gaily, "if King Ferdinand's board be taken as the 
sample. But I quit this goodly company in obedience to an 
order of Dona Isabella, who hath suddenly summoned me to 
her royal presence." 

' " Then, Senor Conde, we go together, and are like to meet 
on the same errand. I, too, am hastening to the apartments of 
the queen." 

" It gladdens my heart to hear this, Senor, as I know of but 
one subject on which a common summons should be sent to us. 
This affair toucheth on my suit, and, doubtless, you will be re- 
quired to speak of my bearing in the voyage." 

" My mind and my time have been so much occupied, of 
late, with public cares, Luis, that I have not had an occasion to 
question you of this. How fareth the Lady of Valverde, and 
when will she deign to reward thy constancy and love ?" 

" Senor, I would I could answer the last of these questions 
with greater certainty, and the first with a lighter heart. Since 
my return I have seen Doiia Mercedes but thrice ; and though 
she was all gentleness and truth, my suit for the consummation 
of my happiness hath been coldly and evasively answered by 
my aunt. Her Highness is to be consulted, it would seem ; 
and the tumult produced by the success of the voyage hath so 
much occupied her, that there hath been no leisure to wait on 



488 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

trifles such as those that lead to the felicity of a wanderer like 
myself." 

" Then is it like, Luis, that we are indeed summoned on this 
very affair ; else, why should thou and I be brought together in 
a manner so unusual and so sudden." 

Our hero was not displeased to fancy this, and he entered 
the apartments of the queen with a step as elastic, and a mien 
as bright, as if he had come tc wed his love. The Admiral of 
the Ocean Sea, as Columbus was now publicly called, had not 
long to wait in ante-chambers, and, ere many minutes, he and 
his companion were ushered into the presence. 

Isabella received her guests in private, there being no one in 
attendance but the Marchioness of Moya, Mercedes, and Ozema. 
The first glances of their eyes told Columbus and Luis that all 
was not right. Every countenance denoted that its owner was 
endeavoring to maintain a calmness that was assumed. The 
queen herself was serene and dignified, it is true, but her brow 
was thoughtful, her eye melancholy, and her cheek slightly 
flushed. As for Dona Beatriz, sorrow and indignation strug- 
gled in her expressive face, and Luis saw, with concern, that her 
look was averted from him in a way she always adopted when 
he had seriously incurred her displeasure. Mercedes 7 lips were 
pale as death, though a bright spot, like vermilion, was station- 
ary on each cheek ; her eyes were downcast, and all her mien 
was humbled and timid. Ozema alone seemed perfectly natu- 
ral ; still, her glances were quick and anxious, though a gleam 
of joy danced in her eyes, and even a slight exclamation of de- 
light escaped her, as she beheld Luis, whom she had seen but 
once since her arrival in Barcelona, already near a month. 

Isabella advanced a step or two, to meet the admiral, and 
when the last would have kneeled, she hurriedly prevented the 
act by giving him her hand to kiss. 

"Not so — not so — Lord Admiral," exclaimed the queen; 
" this is homage unsuited to thy high rank and eminent ser- 
vices. If we are thy sovereigns, so are we also thy friends. I 
fear my lord cardinal will scarce pardon the orders I sent him, 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 489 

seeing that it hath deprived him of thy society somewhat sooner 
than he may have expected." 

"His Eminence, and all his goodly company, have that to 
muse on, Senora, that may yet occupy them some time," re- 
turned Columbus, smiling in his grave manner ; " doubtless, 
they will less miss me than at an ordinary time. Were it 
otherwise, both I, and this young count, would not scruple 
to quit even a richer banquet, to obey the summons of your 
Highness." 

" I doubt it not, Senor, but I have desired to see thee, this 
night, on a matter of private, rather than of public concern- 
ment. Dona Beatriz, here, hath made known to me the pres- 
ence at court, as well as the history of this fair being, who 
giveth one an idea so much more exalted of thy vast discoveries 
that I marvel she should ever have been concealed. Know'st 
thou her rank, Don Christopher, and the circumstances that 
have brought her to Spain ?" 

" Senora, I do ; in part through my own observation, and 
m part from the statements of Don Luis de Bobadilla. I con- 
sider the rank of the Lady Ozema to be less than royal, and more 
than noble, if our opinions will allow us to imagine a condition 
between the two ; though it must always be remembered that 
Hayti is not Castile ; the one being benighted under the cloud 
of heathenism, and the other existing in the sunshine of the 
church and civilization." 

" Nevertheless, Don Christopher, station is station, and the 
rights of birth are not impaired by the condition of a country. 
Although it hath pleased him already, and will still further 
please the head of the church, to give us rights, in our charac- 
ters of Christian princes, over these caciques of India, there is 
nothing unusual or novel in the fact. The relation between 
the suzerain and the lieges is ancient and well established ; and 
instances are not wanting, in which powerful monarchs have 
held certain of their states by this tenure, while others have 
come direct from God. In this view, I feel disposed to con- 
sider the Indian lady as more than noble, and have directed 



490 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

her to be treated accordingly. There remaineth only to relate 
the circumstances that have brought her to Spain." 

" These can better come from Don Luis than from me, Sc- 
nora ; he being most familiar with the events. 

"Nay, Senor, I would hear them from thine own lips. I 
am already possessed of the substance of the Conde de Llera's 
story.' ' 

Columbus looked both surprised and pained, but he did not 
hesitate about complying with the queen's request. 

" Hayti hath its greater and its lesser princes, or caciques, your 
Highness," he added ; "the last paying a species of homage, and 
owing a certain allegiance to the first, as hath been said" — 

"Thou seest, Daughter-Marchioness, this is but a natural 
order of government, prevailing equally in the east and in the 
west !" 

" Of the first of these was Guacanagari, of whom I have al- 
ready related so much to your Highness," continued Columbus; 
" and of the last, Mattinao, the brother of this lady. Don Luis 
visited the Cacique Mattinao, and was present at an inroad of 
Caonabo, a celebrated Carib chief, who would fain have made 
a wife of her who now stands in this illustrious presence. 
The conde conducted himself like a gallant Castilian cavalier, 
routed the foe, saved the lady, and brought her in triumph to 
the ships. Here it was determined she should visit Spain, both 
as a means of throwing more lustre on the two crowns, and of 
removing her, for a season, from the attempts of the Carib, who 
is too powerful and warlike to be withstood by a race as gentle 
as that of Mattinao's." 

" This is well, Senor, and what I have already heard ; but 
how happeneth it, that Ozema did not appear with the rest of 
thy train, in the public reception of the town?" 

"It was the wish of Don Luis it should be otherwise, and I 
consented that he and his charge should sail privately from Pa- 
los, with the expectation of meeting me in Barcelona. Wo 
both thought the Lady Ozema too superior to her companion?, 
to be exhibited to rude eyes as a spectacle." 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 491 

" There was delicacy, if tliere were not prudence in the ar- 
rangement,'' the queen observed, a little drily. " Then, the 
Lady Ozema hath been some weeks solely in the care of the 
Conde de Llera." 

"I so esteem it, your Highness, except as she hath been 
placed under the guardianship of the Marchioness of Moya." 

11 Was this altogether discreet, Don Christopher, or as one 
prudent as thou shouldst have consented to !" 

" Senora!" exclaimed Luis, unable to restrain his feelings 
longer. 

"Forbear, young sir," commanded the queen. "I shall 
have occasion to question thee presently, when thou may'st 
have a need for all thy readiness, to give the fitting answers. 
Doth not thy discretion rebuke thy indiscretion in this matter, 
Lord Admiral f" 

" Sefiora, the question, like its motive, is altogether new to me; 
I have the utmost reliance on the honor of the count, and then 
did I know that his heart hath long been given to the fairest 
and worthiest damsel of Spain ; besides, my mind hath been so 
much occupied with the grave subjects of your Highness' inter- 
ests, that it hath had but little opportunity to dwell on minor 
things." 

" I believe thee, Senor, and thy pardon is secure. Still, for 
one so experienced, it was a sore indiscretion to trust to the 
constancy of a fickle heart, when placed in the body of a light- 
minded and truant boy. And, now, Conde de Llera, I have 
that to say to thee, which thou may'st find it difficult to answer. 
Thou assentest to all that hath hitherto been said ?" 

" Certainly, Senora. Don Christopher can have no motive 
to misstate, even were he capable of the meanness. I trust our 
house hath not been remarkable in Spain, for recreant and false 
cavaliers." 

" In that I fully agree. If thy house hath had the misfor- 
tune to produce one untrue and recreant heart, it hath the 
glory" — glancing at her friend — "of producing others that 
might equal the constancy of the most heroic minds of an- 



492 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

tiquity. The lustre of the name of Bobadilla doth not altogether 
depend on the fidelity and truth of its head — nay, hear me, sir, 
and speak only when thou art ready to answer my questions. 
Thy thoughts, of late, have been bent on matrimony ?" 

" Senora, I confess it. Is it an offence to dream of the hon- 
orable termination of a suit that hath been long urged, and 
which I had dared to hope was finally about to receive your 
own royal approbation ?" 

"It is, then, as I feared, Beatriz !" exclaimed the queen; 
" and this benighted but lovely being hath been deceived by the 
mockery of a marriage ; for no subject of Castile would dare 
thus to speak of wedlock, in my presence, with the conscious- 
ness that his vows had actually and lawfully been given to 
another. Both the church and the prince would not be thus 
braved, by even the greatest profligate of Spain !" 

" Senora, your Highness speaketh most cruelly, even while 
you speak in riddles !" cried Luis. " May I presume to ask if 
I am meant in these severe remarks ?" 

" Of whom else should we be speaking, or to whom else 
allude ? Thou must have the inward consciousness, unprinci- 
pled boy, of all thy unworthiness ; and yet thou darest thus to 
brave thy sovereign — nay, to brave that suffering and angelic girl, 
with a mien as bold as if sustained by the purest innocence IV 

" Senora, I am no angel, myself, however willing to admit 
Dona Mercedes to be one ; neither am I a saint of perfect 
purity, perhaps — in a word, I am Luis de Bobadilla — but as 
far from deserving these reproaches, as from deserving the 
crown of martyrdom. Let me humbly demand my offence V 

" Simply that thou hast either cruelly deceived, by a feigned 
marriage, this uninstructed and confiding Indian princess, or 
hast insolently braved thy sovereign with the professions of a 
desire to wed another, with thy faith actually plighted at the 
altar, to another. Of which of these crimes thou art guilty, 
thou know'st best, thyself." 

" And thou, my aunt — thou, Mercedes — dost thou, too, be- 
lieve me capable of this V 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 493 

" I fear it is but too true," returned the marchioness, coldly ; 
"the proof is such thatmone but an Infidel could deny belief." 

" Mercedes?" 

"No, Luis/' answered the generous girl, with a warmth and 
feeling that broke down the barriers of all conventional re- 
straint — " I do not think thee base as this — I do not think thee 
base at all ; merely unable to restrain thy wandering inclina- 
tions. I know thy heart too well, and thine honor too well, to 
suppose aught more than a weakness that thou wouldst fain 
subdue, but canst not." 

" God and the Holy Virgin be blessed for this !" cried the 
count, who had scarcely breathed while his mistress was speak- 
ing. " Any thing but thy entertaining so low an opinion of 
me, may be borne I" 

" There must be an end of this, Beatriz ; and I see no surer 
means, than by proceeding at once to the facts," said the queen. 
" Come hither, Ozema, and let thy testimony set this matter at 
rest, forever." 

The young Indian, who comprehended Spanish much better 
than she expressed herself in the language, although far from 
having even a correct understanding of all that was said, im- 
mediately complied, her whole soul being engrossed with what 
was passing, while her intelligence was baffled in its attempts 
thoroughly to comprehend it. Mercedes alone had noted the 
workings of her countenance, as Isabella reproved, or Luis made 
his protestations, and they were such as completely denoted 
the interest she felt in our hero. 

" Ozema," resumed the queen, speaking slowly, and with 
deliberate distinctness, in order that the other might get the 
meaning of her words" as she proceeded. " Speak — art thou 
wedded to Luis de Bobadilla, or not ?" 

"Ozema, Luis' wife," answered the girl, laughing and blush- 
ing. "Luis, Ozem a' s husband." 

" This is plain as words can make it, Don Christopher, and is 
no more than she hath already often affirmed, on my anxious and 
repeated inquiries. How and when did Luis wed thee. Ozema?" 



494 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Luis wed Ozema with religion — with Spaniard's religion. 
Ozema wed Luis with love and duty — with Hayti manner." 

"This is extraordinary, Senora," observed the admiral, "and 
I would gladly look into it. Have I your Highness' permission 
to inquire into the affair, myself ?" 

"Do as thou wilt, Senor," returned the queen, coldly. 
" My own mind is satisfied, and it behoveth my justice to act 
speedily." 

" Conde de Llera, dost thou admit, or dost thou deny, that 
thou art the husband of the Lady Ozema ?" demanded Columbus, 
gravely. 

" Lord Admiral, I deny it altogether. Neither have I wed- 
ded her, nor hath the thought of so doing, with any but Mer- 
cedes, ever crossed my inind." 

This was said firmly, and with the open frankness that formed 
a principal charm in the young man's manner. 

" Hast thou, then, wronged her, and given her a right to 
think that thou didst mean wedlock ?" 

" I have not. Mine own sister would not have been more 
respected than hath Ozema been respected by me, as is shown 
by the fact that I have hastened to place her in the care of my 
dear aunt, and in the company of Dona Mercedes." 

" This seemeth reasonable, Senora ; for man hath ever that 
much respect for virtue in your sex, that he hesitateth to offend 
it even in his levities." 

" In opposition to all these protestations, and to so much 
fine virtue, Senor Colon, we have the simple declaration of one 
untutored in deception — a mind too simple to deceive, and of 
a rank and hopes that would render such a fraud as unnecessary 
as it would be unworthy. Beatriz, thou dost agree with me, 
and it cannot find an apology for this recreant knight, even 
though he were once the pride of thy house ?" 

" Senora, I know not. Whatever may have been the fail- 
ings and weaknesses of the boy — and heaven it knows that 
they have been many — deception and untruth have never made 
a part. I have even ascribed the manner in which he hath 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 495 

placed the princess in my immediate care, to the impulses of a 
heart that did not wish to conceal the errors of the head, and to 
the expectation that her presence in my family might sooner bring 
me to a knowledge of the truth. I could wish that the Lady Oze- 
ma might be questioned more closely, in order that we make 
certain of not being under the delusion of some strange error." 

" This is right," observed Isabella, whose sense of justice 
ever inclined her to make the closest examination into the 
merits of every case that required her decision. " The fortune 
of a grandee depends on the result, and it is meet he enjoy all 
fai? means of vindicating himself from so heinous an offence. 
Sir Count, thou canst, therefore, question her, in our presence, 
touching all proper grounds of inquiry." 

" Seiiora, it would ill become a knight to put himself in array 
against a lady, and she, too, of the character and habits of this 
stranger," answered Luis, proudly ; coloring as he spoke, with 
the consciousness that Ozema was utterly unable to conceal her 
predilection in his favor. " If such an office is, indeed, neces- 
sary, its functions would better become another." 

" As the stern duty of punishing must fall on me," the queen 
calmly observed, " I will then assume this unpleasant office. 
Senor Almirante, we may not shrink from any obligation that 
brings us nearer to the greatest attribute of God, his justice. 
Princess, thou hast said that Don Luis hath wedded thee, and 
that thou considerest thyself his wife. When and where didst 
thou meet him before a priest ?" 

So many attempts had been made to convert Ozema to Chris- 
tianity, that she was more familiar with the terms connected 
with religion than with any other part of the language, though 
her mind was a confused picture of imaginary obligations, and 
of mystical qualities. Like all who are not addicted to abstrac- 
tions, her piety was more connected with forms than with prin- 
ciples, and she was better disposed to admit the virtue of the 
ceremonies of the church than the importance of its faith. The 
question of the queen was understood, and, therefore, it was 
answered without guile, or a desire to deceive. 



496 MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 

" Luis wed Ozema with Christian's cross," she said, pressing 
to her heart the holy emblem that the young man had given to 
her ir a moment of great peril, and in a manner the reader 
already knows. " Luis think he about to die — Ozema think 
she about to die — both wish to die man and wife, and Luis 
wed with the cross, like good Spanish Christian. Ozema wed 
Luis in her heart, like Hayti lady, in her own country." 

" Here is some mistake — some sad mistake, growing out of 
the difference of language and customs," observed the admiral. 
" Don Luis hath not been guilty of this deception. I witness- 
ed the offering of that cross, which was made at sea, during a 
tempest, and in a way to impress me favorably with the count's 
zeal in behalf of a benighted soul. There was no wedlock 
there ; nor could any, but one who hath confounded our 
usages, through ignorance, imagine more than the bestowal of a 
simple emblem, that it was hoped might be useful, in extremi- 
ty, to one that had not enjoyed the advantages of baptism and 
the church's offices." 

" Don Luis, dost thou confirm this statement, and also assert 
that thy gift was made solely with this object?" asked the queen. 

" Senora, it is most true. Death was staring us in the face ; 
and I felt that this poor wanderer, who had trusted herself to 
our care, with the simple confidence of a child, needed some 
consolation ; none seemed so meet, at the moment, as that me- 
morial of our blessed Redeemer, and of our own redemption. 
To me it seemed the preservative next to baptism." 

" Hast thou never stood before a priest with her, nor in any 
manner abused her guileless simplicity ?" 

" Senora, it is not my nature to deceive, and every weakness 
of which I have been guilty in connexion with Ozema shall be 
revealed. Her beauty and her winning manners speak for 
themselves, as doth her resemblance to Dona Mercedes. The 
last greatly inclined me to her, and, had not my heart been 
altogether another's, it would have been my pride to make the 
princess my wife. But we met too late for that ; and even the 
resemblance led to comparisons, in which one, educated in infi- 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 497 

delity and ignorance, must necessarily suffer. That I Lave had 
moments of tenderness for Ozema, I will own ; but that they ever 
supplanted, or came near supplanting, my love for Mercedes, I 
do deny. If I have any fault to answer for, to the Lady Ozema, 
it is because I have not always been able to suppress the feel- 
ings that her likeness to the Dona Mercedes, and her own in- 
genuous simplicity — chiefly the former — have induced. Never 
otherwise, in speech or act, have I offended against her." 

"This soundeth upright and true, Beatriz. Thou know'st 
the count better than I, and can easier say how far we ought to 
confide in these explanations." 

" My life on their truth, my beloved mistress ! Luis is no 
hypocrite, and I rejoice ! — oh! how exultingly do I rejoice ! — 
at finding him able to give this fair vindication of his conduct. 
Ozema, who hath heard of our form of wedlock, and hath seen 
our devotion to the cross, hath mistaken her position, as she 
hath my nephew's feelings, and supposed herself a wife, when a 
Christian girl would not have been so cruelly deceived. " 

" This really hath a seeming probability, Senores," con- 
tinued the queen, with her sex's sensitiveness to her sex's 
delicacy of sentiment, not to say to her sex's rights — 
"This toucheth of a lady's — nay, of a princess' feelings, and 
must not be treated of openly. It is proper that any further 
explanations should be made only among females, and I trust 
to your honor, as cavaliers and nobles, that what hath this 
night been said, will never be spoken of amid the revels of men. 
The Lady Ozema shall be my care ; and, Count of Llera, thou 
shalt know my final decision to-morrow, concerning Dona Mer- 
cedes and thyself." 

As this was said with a royal, as well as with a womanly dig- 
nity, no one presumed to demur, but, making the customary 
reverences, Columbus and our hero left the presence. It was 
late before the queen quitted Ozema, but what passed in this 
interview will better appear in the scenes that are still to be 
given. 



498 - MERCEDES OF CAST ILK. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

" "When sinking low the sufferer wan 
Beholds no arm outstretched to save, 
Fair, as the bosom of the swan 
That rises graceful o'er the wave, 
I 've seen your breast with pity heave, 
And therefore love you, sweet Genevieve !" 

Coleeidgb. 

When Isabella found herself alone with Ozema and Merce- 
des (for she chose that the last should be present), she entered 
on the subject of the marriage with the tenderness of a sensi- 
tive and delicate mind, but with a sincerity that rendered fur- 
ther error impossible. The result showed how naturally and 
cruelly the young Indian beauty had deceived herself. Ardent, 
confiding, and accustomed to be considered the object of gen- 
eral admiration among her own people, Ozema had fancied that 
her own inclinations had been fully answered by the young man. 
From the first moment they met, with the instinctive quickness 
of a woman, she perceived that she was admired, and, as she 
gave way to the excess of her own feelings, it was almost a 
necessary consequence of the communications she held with 
Luis, that she should think they were reciprocated. The very 
want of language in words, by compelling a substitution of one 
in looks and acts, contributed to the mistake ; and it will be 
remembered that, if Luis' constancy did not actually waver, it 
had been sorely tried. The false signification she attached to 
the word " Mercedes," largely aided in the delusion, and it was 
completed by the manly tenderness and care with which our 
hero treated her on all occasions. Even the rigid decorum that 
Luis invariably observed, and the seyere personal respect which 



MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 499 

he maintained toward his charge, had their effect on her feel- 
ings ; for, wild and unsophisticated as had been her training, 
the deep and unerring instinct of the feeble, told her the nature 
of the power she was wielding over the strong. 

Then came the efforts to give her some ideas of religion, and 
the deep and lamentable mistakes which imperfectly explained, 
and worse understood subtleties, left on her plastic mind. Oze- 
ma believed that the Spaniards worshipped the cross. She saw 
it put foremost in all public ceremonies, knelt to, and apparent- 
ly appealed to, on every occasion that called for an engagement 
more solemn than usual. Whenever a knight made a vow, he 
kissed the cross of his sword-hilt. The mariners regarded in 
with reverence, and even the admiral had caused one to be 
erected as a sign of his right to the territory that had been 
ceded to him by Guacanagari. In a word, to her uninstrueted 
imagination, it seemed as if the cross were used as a pledge for 
the fidelity of all engagements. Often had she beheld and ad- 
mired the beautiful emblem worn by our hero ; and, as the hab- 
its of her own people required the exchange of pledges of value 
as a proof of wedlock, she fancied, when she received this much- 
valued jewel, that she received the sign that our hero took her 
for a wife, at a moment when death was about to part them for- 
ever. Further than this,